The current administration in the United States of America has made it clear that access to affordable healthcare is one of the major goals in the country. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (herein referred to as PPACA) is one of the legislations formulated to achieve this goal.
The act was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2010 (Authenticated U.S. Government Information, 2010). Since its inception, the policy has faced a number of challenges. The challenges notwithstanding, the policy has achieved a number of objectives envisaged by those who crafted it.
The current paper addresses the said legislation as a core policy in the U.S. healthcare system. In the paper, the policy is summarized with regards to its main goals and its implications on the organization, financing, and delivery of healthcare services in the U.S. In addition, a discussion on the reasons why the policy was introduced, together with any challenges it has faced, is provided.
The opinions of several stakeholders in relation to the policy are also analyzed. The paper will conclude with the author’s opinion on the changes that need to be made to improve the policy.
A Summary of the PPACA Policy and its Implications
The PPACA was enacted by the country’s 111th Congress in 2010. In drafting this policy, the Congress was driven by the need to ensure that all citizens have access to quality and affordable healthcare services (Authenticated U.S. Government Information, 2010). One of the objectives of this policy is to increase access to insurance cover in the public and private sectors. In addition, the policy aims at reducing the overall cost of healthcare services in government and private healthcare organizations.
In order to achieve the aforementioned ‘affordability’ in the healthcare sector, the government, through the PPACA, has come up with a number of programs. Fernandez (2010) cites the introduction of subsidies in the healthcare sector and the actualization of insurance exchanges as some of the main programs initiated by the government. It is also noted that the government addresses the objectives of this policy by enacting additional legislations as provided for in the constitution.
The implementation of PPACA has a number of implications on the US healthcare system. As already indicated, the overarching objective of this policy is to ensure that each and every citizen can access affordable and quality healthcare services. Gruber (2011) is of the view that before this policy was put in place, instances of high insurance costs hindered access to quality healthcare services in the country.
However, this has changed as this policy has drastically reduced insurance costs in America. Another implication of this policy is that it has brought discriminations in the healthcare sector to an end. To this end, people with pre-existing conditions are not locked out of the healthcare system (Gruber, 2011). Before this policy came into effect, many insurance companies discriminated against people with pre-existing conditions, such as HIV and diabetes.
Reasons behind the Introduction of the Policy and the Challenges it has Faced
One of the major objectives of this healthcare policy, as mentioned above, is to reduce the cost of healthcare in the U.S. (Authenticated U.S. Government Information, 2010). In addition, the affordable healthcare policy was put in place to address the issue of discrimination against persons with pre-existing health conditions. Gruber (2011) points out that before the introduction of this policy, the insurance system adopted in the U.S. was in urgent need of reforms. The policy was formulated to address this need for reforms.
Just like any other major policy shift in a democratic country, the affordable healthcare policy has faced a wide range of political and legal challenges (Gruber, 2011). For example, a number of states are opposed to the policy. According to Gruber (2011), such states cite the ‘unconstitutionality’ of the PPACA. Alabama, Wyoming, and Florida are some of the states that challenge the constitutionality of this policy.
The states have raised concerns with the issue of insurance cover in relation to an individual and their employer. Such cases indicate the opinions held by various stakeholders associated with this policy. The constitutionality debate attracted the intervention of the Supreme Court (Cauchi, 2013).
The settling of this matter notwithstanding, the objective of this healthcare policy can only be achieved if the various political challenges are addressed. To this end, those responsible for the implementation of this policy should ensure that the various stakeholders (including the federal government and the states) come to an agreement with regards to the adoption of this system (Gable, 2011).
Conclusion: Is there a Need to Change the Policy?
It is the intention of every sitting government to ensure that citizens can comfortably access quality healthcare services. The affordable healthcare policy discussed in this paper is one of the programs put in place by the U.S. government to achieve this objective. Given the challenges faced by this policy, change is inevitable. To this end, there is need to procure a political agreement between the various stakeholders brought together by the PPACA.
The aim of such an agreement is to ensure there is goodwill in the implementation of the policy. In addition, there is need to provide civic education to address the misconceptions and myths associated with the policy. Goodson (2010) argues that the PPACA allows for increased access to primary healthcare services. To sustain this, the government should recruit more healthcare experts and establish new healthcare facilities.
Authenticated U.S. Government Information. (2010). Public law 111–148: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, United States of America. Washington D.C.: Congress.
Cauchi, R. (2013). State legislation and actions challenging certain health reforms. Web.
Fernandez, B. (2010). Grandfathered health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Web.
Gable, L. (2011). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, public health, and the elusive target of human rights. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 39(3), 340-354.
Goodson, J. (2010). Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Promise and peril for primary healthcare. Annals of Internal Medicine, 152(11), 742-744.
Gruber, J. (2011). The impacts of the affordable care act: How reasonable are the projections?. Web.