Commentary: Where the Democrats Stand on Health Care

President Obama and company want to expand health care to millions of Americans and address the growing AIDS epidemic.

Posted: 09/13/2012 08:40 AM EDT

Though President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden didn’t speak in detail about health care during their speeches at the Democratic National Conventional last week, it doesn’t mean that healthcare isn’t or hasn’t been a top priority for the Democratic party. Their 2012 platform states clearly where they stand:

"We believe accessible, affordable, high quality healthcare is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good healthcare, and that no one should go broke because they get sick.”

The backbone of the Democrats health care platform is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — legislation that President Obama signed back in 2010. Under the ACA, starting in 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Right now, the ACA makes it possible for you to attain preventive services such as cancer screenings, HIV tests, mammograms and Pap smears without incurring a co-pay or fees toward your deductible; it continues your health care even if you have lost your job; provides young people the ability to stay on their parents’ insurance policy until the age of 26; and decreases costs for seniors on Medicare.

And since parts of the ACA have gone into effect, millions of African-Americans have benefited. In an op-ed written earlier this year, Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama broke it down:

Since March 2009, more than 2.4 million African-American seniors with Medicare have received free preventive services such as diabetes screenings. About 410,000 more African-American young adults who would otherwise be uninsured gained coverage due to the law. In addition, 5.5 million African-Americans with private health insurance now have coverage for preventive services without paying an extra penny at their doctor's office.

And 10.4 million African-Americans with private insurance coverage no longer face lifetime limits thanks to the new health care law — in other words, your insurance company can no longer drop your coverage at a time when you need it most.

But as Medpage Today reported, the ACA isn’t the only tool in Obama’s health care box:

HIV receives special mention in the platform. "We Democrats have increased overall funding to combat HIV/AIDS to record levels and will continue our nation's fight against HIV/AIDS. President Obama established the first-ever comprehensive national HIV/AIDS Strategy for responding to the domestic epidemic, which calls for reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care, optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities."

Medicare and Social Security get their own section in the platform document; the Medicare portion begins with a slap at the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a premium support program. "The Republican budget plan would end Medicare as we know it," the platform says. "Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare; unlike our opponents we will not ask seniors to pay thousands of dollars more every year while they watch the value of their Medicare benefits evaporate."

Obviously, the Democrats have good intentions, but many questions remain: How successful will these policies really be? As more people have access to healthcare, are there enough doctors to treat all of us? And do we have enough money in the national and local budgets to sustain these programs?

Time will only tell. But more access to health care, especially for us, can’t be a bad thing.

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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(Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

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