The fight is on — again. Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and Republicans across this country are doubling down against President Obama’s health care reform law. Now that the Supreme Court has said that most of the new law passes constitutional muster, the Republicans are running for office pledging to repeal every aspect of the health care reforms.
For millions of people this isn’t a political issue, it’s a personal one. Their health depends on it.
Massachusetts has led the country in health care reform. Most of us — 98 percent — have health care coverage, and our state leads the country in tackling head-on the ever-growing costs of health care. That is why President Obama used our law as a model for health care reform. But the national Affordable Care Act adds some important elements that improve care even here in Massachusetts.
For seniors, health care reform means expanding Medicare coverage to pick up the costs of prescription drugs. As the donut hole closes, the average Massachusetts senior has so far saved about $650. But Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and their fellow Republicans want to take that away.
For young people, health care reform means staying on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26. So far, more than 20,000 young people here in Massachusetts have taken advantage of this. But Romney, Brown, and their fellow Republicans want to take that away.
For everyone, health care reform means access to preventive care like colonoscopies or mammograms without co-pays. Early detection can save both lives and money. In Massachusetts, 780,000 individuals have received such services. But Republicans want to take that away.
For anyone who develops cancer, a chronic illness, or any medical condition that can cost a staggering amount of money, health care reform means that their insurance company can’t set some arbitrary limit on lifetime coverage. Because of that, countless families will have more secure and stable health care. But Republicans want to take that away.
For small business owners who are struggling with rising health care costs, the federal reforms give tax breaks on insurance coverage. But Republicans want to take away that tax break for small businesses.
The Affordable Care Act is already helping families in the Commonwealth. Together, these reforms make families safer. Better health care coverage means more people will get preventive care — and that means catching serious problems earlier when outcomes are better and treatments are cheaper. Better health care coverage also means that when someone receives a bad diagnosis, the family won’t be crushed financially. And helping small businesses pay for health care premiums also means that they can compete against bigger businesses on a more level playing field.
But now, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and their fellow Republicans propose to repeal every single one of these provisions. And if they get their way, then what? They don’t have any better proposal. It’s just back to square one and more battles over health care.
It’s time to move forward.
It’s time to focus on building a future. It’s time to create jobs, to improve education, to invest in roads and bridges, water, power and all the infrastructure that businesses need to get their goods to market and help people get to work — the things that create the right conditions for opportunities to flourish.
And yes, it’s time to make the health care system better. We need to reduce health care costs, not by shifting those expenses to families, but by developing innovation in health care delivery and research that will cut costs by improving health outcomes. Massachusetts is already at the frontier of these innovations. Our hospitals receive the most NIH funding to discover new breakthroughs. Our businesses are at the fore of designing new medical devices and curing diseases through biotechnology. And our doctors, administrators, insurers, and others all across our health care system are working toward a shared future of better health and lower costs for everyone. They deserve our support, not more years of fighting.
Now that the Supreme Court has resolved the last challenge to health care reforms, we have a real opportunity to move ahead, to concentrate on strengthening our economy and giving hard working families a chance to build real security. It’s time to move forward.
Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.