Sunday, July 1, 2012

By Any Other Name

Well, the verdict is in, much to the relief of the Administration and the chagrin of the GOP. The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, aka 'ObamaCare'. Not surprisingly in a 5 to 4 decision, but the actual makeup of that judicial split was a bit unexpected. Instead of Justice Kennedy acting in his usual role as the swing vote between the conservative and the liberal wings of the court, it was Chief Justice Roberts who decided it. That's right, conservative, Bush 43 appointee John Roberts stood up to affirm the constitutionality of health reform!

The Individual Mandate, the item everyone agreed was the keystone of the health reform law that could, if struck down, render the entire effort untenable, survived. Though, surprisingly not under the Commerce Clause, as was assumed. Chief Justice Roberts declared that it did not survive scrutiny under that clause, but was rather covered under the government's tax authority. Of course the GOP has already started its effort to reframe their opposition, based on it being a tax. And we all know what Republicans think of taxes, regardless of how necessary they are to the functioning of a government. They are nothing if not quick off the mark. But the truth is that to you and I, it doesn't really matter whether it's constitutional under the commerce clause, tax authority or the right to keep and bear arms, as long as it is judged to be covered under some part of the Constitution.

So now it's time for anyone who sees 'ObamaCare' as some diabolical, anti-democratic, freedom killing, evil to cry and mourn the death of the Republic. No, really, I'm serious. There are those who actually see it that way. Despite the fact that it actually gives private sector insurance companies even more business, thus working within the capitalistic framework. Despite the government not in any way forcing you to give up any of your current insurance coverage or in any way taking over the actual insurance business. In fact, if you lay out all the individual provisions, and ask people about those pieces completely on their own, you will hear overwhelming support. Go figure.

- Insurance companies can't deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions? Great!

- They cannot kick you off your coverage for getting sick? Excellent!

- Kids can stay on their parents insurance till they are 26? Nice idea!

- Cost free preventative services, to ensure you catch problems early? Oh, yeah!

- A way to compare health plans and have them compete on a level playing field? It's there all right.

- Eliminate lifetime limits? Yep!

- Require insurance companies to use at least 80 - 85% of premiums on actual benefits? Good!

- Increase access to Medicaid for low income Americans? Outstanding!

There is really only one part of the Affordable Care Act that gets GOP hackles up, and it's the one they came up with in the first place! The Individual Mandate. This requires everyone to have insurance coverage of some sort, either employer provided or individually purchased. You know, like many Americans already have to do for car insurance! This provision has been harped on as some sort of tyrannical over-reach, yet in truth it's just another way of saying 'no freeloading'. As it is now, if you don't have insurance, that's your choice, but if you do get sick and show up at the Emergency Room they have to treat you. And the rest of us have to pay for it! Why doesn't anyone in the GOP or on Fox news scream and inveigh about all the cheapskates being given free medical care? It's actually a conservative idea, damn it! Take responsibility for your own healthcare because we don't want to pay for it any more. Someone please explain to me how this is tyranny!

The bottom line is that the current system, with Emergency Rooms used as emergency insurance, is far more socialist than the Affordable Care Act! It gives people a way to get care while foisting the bill on the rest of us. Isn't the Individual Mandate more fair, responsible and downright conservative? So Americans love 99% of the provisions of the law, but some just can't stand 'ObamaCare'. They can't give a cogent reason or articulate their disagreement without using GOP talking points, but they just don't like it. Look, if you have insurance coverage . . . it's not really going to affect you. If you don't, then it will almost certainly help you get it. It will also guarantee the private insurance companies millions of additional customers, thus taking the sting out of their additional requirements under the law. So if you just can't stand 'ObamaCare,' maybe you should take a look at the Affordable Care Act instead.