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From Death Panels to Individual Liberty: The Affordable Care Act

If you are like me and want to know more about the Affordable Care Act be prepared to wade through the murky waters of fact versus fiction.  Moreover, much if not all of what is heard about the Affordable Care Act has been the GOP’s advertisements and slander of the law, which as far as content is concerned amounts to noise.  From the jeeringly gaudy posters about socialized medicine and Obamacare,  to the  recent firestorm regarding the central provision of the law, there seems to be enough subterfuge to hide the merits of the law from sight.  Between the murky water (i.e., discerning fact from fiction) and the noise (i.e., the loud protesters and cute slogans), it has been almost impossible to really get a grasp on what’s at stake with the Affordable Care Act.  Given the GOP’s all-encompassing campaign to get rid of this law, why does this new law still have a 38 percent approval rating?  And more importantly—why should you care?

  

There are four main reasons why this law still stands, despite constant efforts to undermine it.  First, our current health-care system is not sustainable. Secondly, the health care law’s benefits are many and the drawbacks are few, which is why the GOP had to create chump charges to paint this health care bill as everything but a necessary reform.  There is also a huge need, with 45 million Americans without health insurance of any kind.  Finally, many Americans recognize that something has to be done, and that many Republicans are just spewing attention-grabbing bogus sound-bites as opposed to viable alternative solutions.

A 2007 Commonwealth Fund survey “finds that, compared with adults in 6 other countries,  [United States or] US adults are most likely to go without health care because of the cost and are more likely to say that the health care system needs to be rebuilt completely .”  

In 2005, the price tag of health care was $6,697 per person.   According to an article in the American Prospect, the United States has the dubious distinction of spending the most money on healthcare.  Yet, the US falls behind the other six countries in terms of service accessibility, quality and health outcomes.    You remember that “45 million Americans” number?  Well, that’s roughly 15 to 16 percent of Americans without any form of health insurance.  Would anyone care to guess how much it cost us in a single year, when these uninsured Americans seek medical attention and cannot afford to pay for their needed treatments? In 2008 alone, it cost about $43,000,000,000 or 43 billion dollars!  The numbers for 2009 look worse; see the following:

In 2009, the United States spent more than 17 percent of its gross domestic product on health care according to projections. Pub. L. No. 111-148, §§ 1501(a)(2)(B), 10106(a)…. The record before Congress documents the staggering costs that a broken health care system visits on individual Americans and the nation as a whole. Millions who have no health insurance coverage still receive medical care, but often cannot pay for it. The costs of that uncompensated care are shifted to the government, taxpayers, insurers, and the insured. But cost-shifting is not the only harm imposed by the lack of insurance. Congress found that the “economy loses up to $207,000,000,000 a year because of the poorer health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured,” Pub. L. No. 111-148, §§ 1501(a)(2)(E), 10106(a), and that medical expenses cause, at least in part, 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies, id. §§ 1501(a)(2)(G), 10106(a). (see page 20)

With the exorbitant cost of our current health-care system coupled to it the poor accessibility, quality, and health outcomes that many experience, we should all be willing to at least admit the need for a new Health care law. 

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I try not to lampoon political parties (at least publicly), but I cannot say Sarah Palin’s name without a subtle chuckle. Do you remember back in August 2009, when former Vice Presidential candidate Palin linked the then Health care Reform Bill with the infamous death panels, or in 2010, the GOP’s claim that there was a government takeover of Healthcare?   With each outlandish claim, the GOP has masterfully dominated the dialogue regarding health care. The American people have not yet been able to shift the discussion from messaging like Obamacare, socialized medicine, and death panels to actual provisions within the Law.  Even with easy to follow website like www.healthcare.gov, many of us still believed that the death panels were a part of the then bill, and now part of the law.

The health care bill was signed into law in March 2010.  Since then, Republican–possibly appointed–judges, libertarian organizations, conservative organizations, and a gaggle of other entities who wish to dismantle this law, have started to transform their lies about “government takeover of health care” to claims of unconstitutionality.  To paraphrase Judge Hudson, it is not about health care but about individual liberty. His statement rings hollow like sounding brass to my ears, and here is why:

Judge Hudson is a Republican-appointed judge and is an owner of Campaign Solutions, a political conservative consulting group. His consulting group has advised several Republican candidates on anti-health care policies!  Judge Hudson, fully aware that he owns a sizable chunk of Campaign Solutions, decided to preside over a case about the health care law, and just so happened to declare a central provision of the Law unconstitutional. Judge Hudson’s defense to the Washington Post was “that he and his wife invested in the consulting company at the urging of a friend, before he became a judge. And Hudson said he sees no conflict [of interest].” All I can say all hail the mighty dollar which turns the rule of law every which way but loose.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqS7pCZvK7Q&feature=player_embedded

Nonetheless there is an acknowledgement among Americans that a change is needed (see pdf for full CNN polling data). In 2007, a Commonwealth survey found that “34 percent of Americans want to completely rebuild the health care system.”  Moreover in 2010, a recent CNN, poll found that 38 percent of Americans are in support of the – badly branded – new Health care Law or Affordable Care Act including the central provision that Judge – Campaign Solution owner – Hudson declared unconstitutional. How do you feel about the Health care law?