2014

14 May 2014: Democrats need to defend Obamacare

In the past six months the Universe of Obamacare has changed as rapidly, it seems, as the Universe did six months after the Big Bang.  Once on life-support and given last rites by ministers of the political right, Obamacare has rebounded much to Republicans’ chagrin.  Democrats should only hope Republicans make it their central issue in the fall campaign, that is if they’re willing to trumpet its success.

Successful it has been with over eight million newly enrolled, including my friend whose story was a common one in that he neither had the option of an employee plan nor could afford one.   Another with Type 1 diabetes worked solely to pay for a health plan so to get treatment for a disability over which he had no choice or control.  Like so many others, he had been sold by the system into modern-day indentured servitude.

For a first-world nation, our health care system has stunk, operating for eons on free market principles.  It got us an ultra-expensive system unaffordable for most and off limits to tens of millions of Americans.

Obamacare’s Universe’s fortunes have changed for the better not only in its implementation and success rate but also how it has changed the conversation about our approach to health care.  In short, we’ll never turn back the clock, reverting back to the way we were.

That presents a problem for boo-hissers vying with proponents for the hearts and support of the center.

The question for rightists who receive their daily thought from Fox News, rightwing radio, and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page: With what you would replace it?  After all, Obamacare is a Republican idea, well, an antiquated 1990s Republican idea from the days before it lurched and then ran lemming-like into the Tea Party abyss.  In essence, Republicans like Mitt Romney, who birthed it in Massachusetts, were for it before they found it necessary to be against it.

National columnist Froma Harrop argues Democrats ought to tout and embrace it, not as the perfect resolution to the health care crisis but more as a successful initiative that has helped reduce the uninsured ranks by upwards of 20 percent, thus allowing the newly insured to access immediate, necessary medical care and to begin adopting preventive health-care practices.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects upwards of 12 million will have enrolled in programs by the end of this year with another 12 million by 2017.  In addition, enrollees in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are expected to increase.

Further, the good news is that projected costs of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, will decline $5 billion dollars this year and $104 billion in ten years.

That ought to be celebrated by all given it says people that would have not gotten care or would’ve vis-à-vis the exorbitantly expensive emergency room are not needing to go that route, but it isn’t.

For those preferring people suffer and die rather than their Ayn Randian principles be violated, the plaint is that the program is socialistic.  On the left, as one friend put it, Obamacare makes health insurance more affordable not necessarily health care.

Neither argument upon close scrutiny holds water.  People die all the time for principle.  While it’s understandable and even admirable when one puts his/her life on the line, it’s another when he/she prefers others be at risk in order to defend personal principles.

And while leftists make legitimate points about the ACA’s imperfections and that only a single-payer system would solve our health care crisis, it’s critical to keep in mind the ACA’s has forever altered the dynamics of  the way we deliver health care.  That is profound as it not only empowers but also obligates people to take care of themselves in the first place.

Harrop writes, “Timidity is a standard operating practice for Democrats fearful of sounding too liberal in what is described as a ‘right of center’ country.”  It is for those who swallow NY Times columnist David Brook’s goop about the U.S being more conservative than liberal despite Barack Obama crushing two decidedly conservatives in successive elections.

She cites as well Bill Clinton, the most successful Democrat of the age, who urges Democrats to “embrace” controversy and not just “deal with it.”

I’m all for that.

BTW, May 16 is Endangered Species Day when a few years ago one might’ve focused upon moderate Republicans.  RINO’s have since become extinct although rumored sightings persist.

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