A QUESTION for those who want to repeal or defund the new health-care-
reform law: Which of these benefits (already in effect) do you want to force people to give back?
_ Should discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions be reinstated? (Starting Sept. 23, all private insurance plans were prohibited from denying coverage to kids just because they are sick.)
_ Should young people under 26 who are newly covered under their parents' insurance plan now go back to being uninsured?
_ Should insurance companies again be free to drop people from coverage after they get sick, or because of an unintentional paperwork error?
_ Should seniors who have reached the "doughnut hole" in Medicare drug coverage - that is, they've spent more than $2,700 this year - have to return the $250 rebate they got?
_ Should patients in new private plans who are no longer being charged co-pays for preventive services like vaccines, mammograms and colono- scopies, or tests for diabetes or cholesterol, have to go back to paying $25, $35, $40 each for them?
These are some of the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that real Americans have right now.
And here's a query to the people who have filed the 15 lawsuits seeking to get the new law declared unconstitutional - including Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, the Republican candidate for governor: What savings scheduled to take effect in January should people do without?
_ Should seniors who have reached the "doughnut hole" give up the 50 percent discount on drugs they'll start getting? Should small businesses give up tax credits of up to 35 percent of employer premiums (scheduled to rise to 50 percent in 2014)?
_ And what about a key provision of the law that requires insurers to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of the premiums you pay on providing actual health care? Should that be scuttled?
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that so many people don't know about these benefits: Facts don't carry much weight when hundreds of millions of dollars in ads have succeeded in creating an alternate reality - in which you have to go to a bureaucrat before you go to a doctor, or, as a Republican candidate for Congress in New York charged, "The Obama administration is compiling a federal health record on all citizens including each individual's body mass index." (One ad that surprised even politifact.com, which has debunked hundreds during this election cycle, came from a Republican Senate candidate in Indiana who warned that seniors would be forced into a "government-run health-care program," apparently unaware that seniors were "forced into a government-run program" called Medicare 45 years ago - and they like it, they really like it.)
We're more than a little annoyed at having to defend the health-care reform law because, for us, supporting it was a very close call: It could have - and should have - been much more comprehensive. It could have - should have - provided leverage against the monopoly of private health insurers in the form of a robust public option.
But, considering its enemies, even this not-so-robust law still must do a heckuva lot to reduce the tactics that led to obscene profits for health insurers in recent years. As the New York Times reported this week, health-care opponents have spent $108 million - six times that of the law's supporters - to advertise against it. And that was after the law passed in March.
It looks like a last-ditch effort to stop reforms before people realize that the scary predictions just simply haven't come true. The danger is that, by the time the truth dawns, it may be too late.