News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 1, 2012

Maureen Hayden: Hoosiers looking to learn more about ‘affordable care’

By Maureen Hayden
CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS — I was officially off work when the U.S. Supreme Court decision came down on Obamacare, but it was news that was hard to ignore.

I was absent from my post because I was moving and had yet to have my cable TV or Internet connected so I missed much of the heated rhetoric and pundits’ chatter about the court’s 5-4 ruling on what’s officially known as the Affordable Care Act.

The perspective I heard came from the three big guys from the small moving company I hired to lug heavy furniture and too many boxes down and up some narrow flights of stairs on one of the hottest days of the year. None of them had health insurance.

They were all young, strong and seemed in good health. But as one of them told me, as he politely asked me to get out of the way, one false step or one bad turn could result in an injury that could cost him a doctor’s visit he can’t afford.

Under the health care law the court upheld, that could change for him. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees can receive federal tax credits for providing workers with health insurance coverage; to be eligible, employees have to be working full-time and making less than $50,000 a year.

My movers didn’t know that, and I don’t know that their boss does either. There’s been so much heat and not much light shed on what the law really means for the average Hoosier.

This is not a blanket endorsement of the health care reform law. It’s a complicated, hit-and-miss law with sweeping impact and the court ruling may have made it even more complicated. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how the law will affect state budgets, if states decide — as the law was originally designed to make them do — to significantly expand Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

That’s a worthy conversation for thoughtful policy makers but sadly, it’s cause for some thoughtless vitriol. What was Mike Pence, the Republican congressman running for governor, thinking when compared the Supreme Court’s decision to the 9/11 terrorist attack in a closed-door meeting with other GOP lawmakers?

Pence later apologized, saying his remark had been “thoughtless.” Yes, it was.

I can understand the concerns about Obamacare and appreciate why some would object on a host of grounds. But like a lot of parents with college-age children, I’ve already benefited from the part of the law that lets grown children stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they turn 26. It kept my two sons covered while they were in college full-time.

I have a family member undergoing cancer treatment right now. Because of Obamacare, she can’t be thrown out of a health insurance plan or charged exorbitant rates in the future because of her illness. That’s one less thing for she and her husband to worry about since it’s taking all their strength and prayers just to care for her and their year-old daughter.

My movers, my sons and my young relatives are a reminder that health care reform involves real people. In the escalating political war over this issue, let’s not make them casualties.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at