July 12--Anyone who believes the Affordable Care Act as written is the final solution to providing decent health care to everyone in the United States is wrong.
It's barely a beginning.
And if Republicans don't strangle the baby in its crib, and assuming voters won't them do that this November, it could take years of rational discussion and compromise to refine. That will require far more reasonable Republican and Democratic members of Congress than today's ideological yahoos to address the law's lingering tolerance for the imperfections that continue to make health care so expensive, and still for millions, unavailable.
The solution inevitably must include establishing a single payer system, not necessarily the government. That shouldn't mean doctors won't be paid fairly and appropriately for their skills, or that hospitals won't be able to pay their bills.
The notion of reform infuriates the for-profit hospitals and health insurance CEOs, board members, their hordes of vice presidents, their hired guns in Congress and yes, even people in the White House and Supreme Court, who gnaw higher up on the ham bone with no thought to the miseries of millions.
In the blistering, mind-numbing anger of another election year, no one group is more wrong about the law's just and modest intentions at this stage than the Republicans and perhaps a handful of misguided Democrats who want to repeal the health care law in its entirety.
The very same law Republicans, most famously Mitt Romney, once embraced as their solution to needed health care reform, and which the Supreme Court recently declared constitutional.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted again to repeal the Affordable Care Act they derisively call Obamacare. SClBIt was their 33rd attempt in three years to kill the law that seeks to rein in an immoral, for-profit, private health insurance system that long dictated who got a chance to live, what it would cost them, and who would be sentenced to die. Only the tenuous majority of Democrats in the Senate have prevented replacing reform with a catastrophe for the uninsured who now qualify for help.
Conservative Republicans furiously are arguing that taxing uninsured people to buy health insurance they don't want to buy is unpatriotic and unAmerican; an evil socialist-commie plot rather than a Christian imperative.
Above all, they fear the ACA as a contradiction and repudiation of their fondness for the popular American myth of a self-reliant people who prefer to pass the cup or hold a raffle when a neighbor's child needs a heart transplant.
The old towns and wagon trails of pioneer America are littered with grave markers calculating the limits and human price of self reliance.
Washington Post writer Matt Miller noted in a column this week that the ACA adds 30 million uninsured people to the ranks of the insured but still leaves 20 million people without health insurance. An unacceptable number exacerbated by Republican governors who say they won't expand their Medicaid programs to cover working people too poor to buy coverage even if federal taxpayers will pay 90 percent of the cost.
Miller noted that 20 million isn't just a cold, meaningless number liberals and progressives dreamed up for argument's sake. It represents real people, of every faith, race and political inclination. In fact, 20 million is the equivalent combined population of 25 U.S. states, including Iowa, its neighbors Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
Most of those 25 states lean Republican, which means their uninsured residents, who doubtless include Tea Party members and Republican moderates alike, are being thrown to the wolves by their own kind. Some are going willingly by their voting choices, however bizarre that is.
Republicans' insistence that Obamacare is a socialist plot to destroy capitalism is absurd and untrue. But it's popular precisely because it's a simplistic allegation. If too many Americans agree on one thing they hate, it's having to think for themselves. They prefer echoing their politicians' deceitful logic to exploring deeper thoughts.
The reality is that roughly one in three Americans -- 136 million -- already enjoys the fruits of socialized health insurance. About 56 million get coverage via Medicare, which helps the disabled and those 65 and older. Medicaid covers the poor -- 58 million of them. Some 22 million veterans lacking other options can seek care from the Veterans Administration. Another 1.5 million members of the active duty military and 2.8 million federal employees and all their families get taxpayer-funded coverage.
The last group includes those Congressmen who, like any litter's strongest suckling pigs, squirm and squeal loudest as they try to force their weaker siblings away from the sow's teat.
It isn't ordinary Americans who need to be weaned from their government's best inclinations. It's those members of Congress who believe numbers aren't people and the sow belongs to them.
(c)2012 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)
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