For Vice President Joe Biden, the Affordable Care Act is about more than physical care when something happens — it’s about the security of being covered in case something does.
“A big chunk of why I so strongly believe [health care] is a right and we’ve covered it now, is peace of mind,” he said at a Families USA health conference Thursday. “This is Biden — I’m a lawyer, not a doctor — but I bet we’ll find that stress plays an incredibly big role in health care.”
In fact, we already have. Chronic stress has been linked to poor health. And a study this year found that Medicaid coverage increased use of health services, decreased rates of depression, and lowered financial strain.
Biden emphasized the importance of insurance to those with preexisting conditions who previously could not get coverage, and families who relied on the emergency room for care. Medical bills are the single greatest cause of bankruptcy, he said.
“To be able to say it with certainty — it’s going to be OK — so many parents, so many families til now have not been able to turn and say it’s going to be OK,” Biden said. “Don’t underestimate the peace of mind piece of this.”
For now though, the enrollment numbers and the law’s impact remain a bit murky.
A Gallup poll released Thursday shows that the rate of uninsured has dropped in the last month, from 17.3 percent in December to 16.1 percent so far in January. This is a positive sign, but it’s too early to tell the degree to which it can be attributed to the health law, and the extent to which the decline will be sustained.
About 2.2 million have enrolled in private insurance on the exchanges as of the end of December. New figures out Wednesday show that 6.3 million people have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or CHIP by the states since Obamacare open enrollment began in October, though that figure also includes individuals who are renewing coverage or were previously eligible but not enrolled.
Being insured doesn’t guarantee that patients will actually go to the doctor, but just having this coverage would significantly improve the lives of many, Biden said.
The vice president emphasized that the law is here to stay, despite continued opposition. “I’m confident [Republicans] are not going to get the message I’m about to deliver to them: We will not go back. America has turned the page. We will not go back to the days before the Affordable Care Act.”
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”