This time around, House Republicans have married their 1-note campaign against the legally-passed and Constitutionally-upheld “Obamacare” with their spending cut campaign. They recently passed yet another Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for less than three months, yet again abrogating their Constitutional responsibility to (timely) initiate and pass a budget to fund our government’s operations. But this time they coupled that CR with a complete defunding of Obama’s health program – their 42nd meaningless and futile attempt to scrap Obamacare. This latest maneuver will once again go nowhere, wasting everyone’s time while ducking a real spending plan that addresses our needs.
Since Obamacare seems to be “the end of America, our freedoms, and our economy as we know it,” perhaps we should once again look at some of its provisions to better understand its seeming inherent evil. Some principal new requirements under this law include:
-Requiring that any preexisting medical conditions must be covered if a person seeks new medical insurance, ending the practice of those people who need medical care the most being blocked from coverage, or trapped in a job for fear of losing coverage on an existing illness;
-ending the practice of having ceilings (annual or lifetime) on one’s health care costs, which left supposedly insured people liable for the costs above these arbitrary ceilings;
-allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26, an important consideration for new graduates entering the workforce under a mountain of college debt;
-reducing the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare Part D coverage for seniors;
-requiring all taxpayers to have medical insurance, thereby expanding the pool of people covered and reducing premium charges to the individual, as well as to reduce the use of hospital emergency rooms as “free clinics” for the uninsured (the most expensive treatment, all underwritten by the insured population);
-leaving existing health insurance programs in place, so people who already have health insurance have to make NO CHANGE in their current insurance or medical providers;
-requiring that all companies with over 50 employees with individual employees working a minimum of 30 hours/week be provided with health insurance, thereby significantly reducing the number of uninsured people among the “working poor” population;
-providing new state-run insurance exchanges, with subsidies for low-income individuals, where people who have no coverage or whose employer does not offer an insurance option can buy health insurance;
-allowing states to significantly expand their Medicaid health programs for the poor, with funding predominately underwritten by the federal government;
-mandating a number of preventive screenings and medical services for seniors at no cost;
-setting a minimum percentage of premium dollars received by insurance companies that must be applied to the delivery of actual medical services, versus being passed on to stockholders as profit.
The actual Affordable Care Act refutes many of the lies said about it by self-serving politicians like Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, and countless other anti-Obama zealots. Lies such as:
-the creation of “death panels” who will decide who lives or dies by determining who will get certain medical services and who will not. If any such death panels exist, they exist in the insurance companies who decide – often arbitrarily and after-the-fact – what your policy covers and what it does not;
-Obamacare will bankrupt the country due to its supposedly high cost. In point of fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected long ago a DECLINE in health costs due to this same Obamacare;
-Obamacare will wreak havoc on small-business companies who cannot absorb this new insurance cost. In fact, it is these same anti-Obamacare people who are also insisting that health insurance be an “employment benefit” instead of a basic right of citizenship – and many unscrupulous employers have long used any excuse possible to deny insurance coverage to their low-waged employees;
-that currently insured people will be forced to change their doctor, hospital or insurer of choice. As noted above, it just ain’t so.
The radical right-wing has milked millions of dollars from the public by exploiting health fears among Americans, and has wasted millions of dollars trying to defeat any improvements in our health care system. A system under which we pay more for our health care than any other country, yet show far less measureable quality of outcomes than many of those same countries. For all our spending, millions of Americans, regardless of the severity of their medical needs, have no access to those very expensive health care services due to the costs involved. To date, ZERO alternative proposals have been offered to improve health care access and outcomes, and to reduce these obscene costs.
So instead of just railing against something called “Obamacare,” passing nonsensical Congressional resolutions to overturn it, and forcing the shutdown of government to try to eliminate this law, I pose these questions on behalf of the American people: which of the features listed above would you eliminate from the Public benefit, and why? If there are just certain parts of the Act you oppose, why don’t you introduce targeted legislation to alter those, versus canceling ALL provisions? Which of these features are so odious that they are worth shutting down virtually all government services to the public? What concrete features and steps would you offer in replacement of this Act – instead of spouting the usual rhetorical platitudes praising “American free enterprise” and decrying non-existent “socialized medicine” in lieu of real solutions?
Just being “against” is no strategy to “promote the general welfare” promised by the Constitution. As a consequence, we are sailing into the very dangerous – yet avoidable – waters of funding and governance turbulence on a ship captained by fools.
© 2013 Randy Bell