Health Care Ruling Does Not Help Farm Families

The Supreme Court Ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Act is not being greeted with enthusiasm by most farmers.  Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in a statement released after the ruling said, “We believe one of the primary goals of health care reform should be to reduce costs for participants. The plan reviewed by the Supreme Court would impose a new financial burden on our members.” For many farmers, health insurance is hard to get because farms are individual businesses in a dangerous occupation. Pat Wolf, with the AFBF in Washington, says Obamacare does little to help farm families get coverage they can afford, “If farmers could afford good healthcare now, we would not have a problem; but simply mandating people buy something they cannot afford without addressing the issue of cost is not reforming the situation.”


The program passed by Congress has a provision for an insurance exchange that will be administered by each state, but there are no details on how this program would work and who would be eligible. Governor Daniels said in a statement that he is not sure if Indiana will participate in the exchange program, “Operation of a state-based exchange could cost $50 million to $65 million in the first several years of operation. Indiana has taken steps to research the potential implications of health insurance exchanges, but absolutely no decision has been made to establish a state-based exchange. Before a decision can be made, the state needs more information about how a federally-based exchange will operate and be funded.”


Another unanswered question is how seasonal farm workers would be considered under the new program which mandates employers to provide health insurance coverage. “We do not know how the government will treat seasonal employees and if a farmer would have to provide health coverage for seasonal workers under the program,” said Wolf.


Wolf told HAT that, despite the court ruling, the future remains uncertain for health care reform, “There are many in Congress who are calling for the repeal of the legislation.”  Stallman said AFBF will continue to work to improve the situation for farm families when it comes to health care, “Moving forward, we encourage Congress and the President to work together to address our remaining concerns on this issue that affects millions of small business owners and individuals throughout rural America.” Nebraska Senator and former Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns says the Supreme Court ruling that the health care law is constitutional does not mean it is wise or should remain on the books. He says he supports and will continue to press for “full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”   Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the law is only constitutional because it is a tax on every American. As such, he says the legislation was sold in Congress and to the country under false pretenses. Grassley says we need health care solutions that use free-market principle.  House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says he will work with his colleagues to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact reforms to the nation’s health care system that protect access to health care.

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