The Short Version: Obamacare

The Short Version: Obamacare

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, the week’s most controversial issues, determine why a particular issue is important to you, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story.

By reading Cleo Abram’s The Short Version, you join a vibrant group of people with two simple beliefs: 1) Every important issue can and should be discussed in a way we all can understand; 2) Understanding both sides makes us more thoughtful and our views more informed.

In some of the most recent iterations of The Short Version, Cleo Abram looked at what might happen when president-elect Trump’s interests are not the same as ours. She examined the the viability of the Electoral College, because, well, this is the second election of the past five in which the person with the most votes is not going to the White House: in the end, Hillary Clinton won just under 3 million more votes than the president elect. And, according to economic analyses, a minimum of 3 million appears to be the magic number of American who would be forced to go without healthcare insurance based on economic analyses of any plans to replace Obamacare. (With no replacement, that number soars to 22 million.)

Note: In general, if you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

“I love getting feedback every week—thank you! If you want come hang out, debate a thing or two, and meet other Shorties, check out Short Events,” says Cleo. “Or if you have a topic you’d be interested in guest writing, just let me know! Let’s make it happen.”

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abram of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

Now in control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, Republicans are pushing hard to repeal Obamacare—and debating their replacement plan.

Replacement options range from Sen. Paul Ryan’s ‘Better Way for Healthcare‘ to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s ‘Patient CARE Act‘ to Sen. Ted Cruz’s suggestion of effectively no replacement at all. These plans vary in means, but economic analyses suggest they all would reduce the number of Americans with health insurance, some around 3 million (Better Way), others up to 22 million (no replacement.) Proponents argue this loss would be outweighed by benefits to the system as a whole or by individual liberty to choose whether to buy healthcare more freely.

More immediately, Congressional Republicans are suggesting a “repeal and delay” plan. This would mean getting rid of Obamacare now, with a delayed effect of 2-4 years, and ideally agreeing on a replacement before that deadline.

Why is it important?

No matter what the replacement, repealing Obamacare would have an enormous effect on the lives of individual Americans and on the health insurance market.

Too often left out of this debate is a description of what Obamacare actually entails. This part is important. “Obamacare” is the unofficial name for The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or just ACA), which was signed by President Obama in 2010. These are the most significant elements of the law:

  1. Certain benefits, rights and protections for all Americans. For example, Obamacare ensures you have no annual or lifetime limits on healthcare, you cannot be charged more based on your gender, you cannot be denied health coverage based on a preexisting condition, you can remain on your parents’ health insurance until you are 26, and more.
  2. An expansion of Medicaid. The law expanded coverage to everyone making less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level ($24,300 for a family of 4 in 2017. 138% is $33,534.) However, a Supreme Court ruling now allows states to opt out of this part of the law.
  3. An expansion of employer health insurance. For small businesses (fewer than 26 employees), Obamacare offers tax breaks for providing health benefits. For larger businesses (more than 50 employees), Obamacare requires health coverage for full-time workers or a penalty fee.
  4. An individual mandate. To ensure that healthy Americans also sign up for health insurance (and therefore balance the people with preexisting conditions that insurance companies are now required to take), Obamacare requires most people to buy health insurance, apply for an exemption, or pay a penalty.
  5. A health insurance marketplace. Obamacare set up a marketplace in which Americans can buy regulated health insurance, apply for subsidies, or switch plans.

Debate it!

Should we “repeal and delay” Obamacare (remove the law with a deadline to enact a replacement)?

 Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Nine+ ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this new weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance. (Though we won’t go political, or rather we won’t show bias.)

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:

Cleo Abram 2

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.

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