From the Daily: Victory isn't enough

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published July 1, 2012

According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks 37th in the world for its health system but spends more on it than any other country. For years, this deficit has been apparent through sub-par health care, leaving millions of Americans disheartened with their health insurance companies. President Barack Obama has been working to change this, and with the help of the Supreme Court on June 28, he has gotten one step closer. It’s now imperative that states take action to bring the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to their citizens. In particular, the state of Michigan must take action to set up health insurance exchanges because they have the potential to benefit many citizens, especially those who are lower-income.

On Thursday, June 28, the Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. ruled that the individual mandate in the ACA was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause but is constitutional as a tax. His ruling proved to be the key vote in a 5-4 majority decision. Many of Obama’s reforms in health care can now take place, including the requirement for insurance companies to allow young adults up to the age of 26 to be included on their parents’ health insurance policies. Other provisions include increasing access to Medicaid and prohibiting discrimination based on gender or pre-existing conditions.

Given the current state of the job market, allowing young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance policies under the age of 26 is very beneficial for many graduating students. Those struggling to find work shouldn’t be punished by having their health insurance taken away. In such a tough economy, it’s likely that many students today find themselves unemployed and without health care — a terrifying combination. In a country that prides itself on its freedoms, our young citizens shouldn’t feel trapped by inadequate health coverage as soon as they leave the safety of their university. This provision will greatly help to alleviate this problem.

The establishment of health care exchanges within the state of Michigan is crucial for students whose parents don’t have health insurance. The ACA provides a more affordable insurance option for individuals aged 19-25. Estimates report that 2.5 million young adults will gain coverage because of this new option. The only way citizens can obtain this care, however, is if the state sets up a program through which we can purchase the insurance. Though the deadline for the creation of the health care exchanges isn’t until 2014, legislators in Lansing will be shortchanging their constituencies — and future workforce — if they don’t enact this reform as soon as possible.

A strong and well-run government is one that takes care of its people. One of the best places to start is making sure that its citizens are physically healthy enough to perform the tasks that keep the country moving. The Obama administration and the Supreme Court have laid down all the tools to create a health care system that actually cares. It's now time for the state governments to put them to use.