At this late date and with all the press about the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also either affectionately or abominably known as Obamacare, one might think that the government shutdown and the idiotic debt ceiling flirtation of early October never even happened. The GOP and particularly the ultra-extreme-right wing Tea Party embedded within it are absolutely gloating at the failures of the www.healthcare.gov website and the 5 million health insurance company cancellation notices that have gone out to perhaps 5 million private insurances policy-holders of sub-standard policies.
Never mind that those policies didn’t cover things like hospital stays or operations. And never mind that that there were other ways to sign up for the ACA/Obamacare besides the website.
Actually, the GOP is right.
Yeah, you read that correctly. The conservatives in this country were right that Obamacare was flawed. Involving the private for-profit health insurance industry, which they ABSOLUTELY insisted upon even though they STILL couldn’t manage to submit a single vote for the bill in 2009, was a BIG mistake. Every other advanced country on Earth knew better than to involve private industry health care insurance companies because they knew that putting a for-profit basis into public safety compromises the very public safety one is trying to protect.
Every advanced country on Earth, that is, except this one.
Mind you, not everyone in the USA is blind to this fact, nor have they been for a very long time. As far back as the Truman administration, the educated, informed and enlightened realized that public safety was a function of government that had to be above the for-profit motivation of free private capitalist marketeers. In fact, President Eisenhower, a republican, warned Americans in the 1950’s to be watchful of the “military-industrial complex” whose primary purpose was not protection of the nation but self-propagation of its own profits and power.
When Obamacare was being debated during the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton supported a universal health care plan that essentially would provide every American with complete health care from womb to tomb the same way that every citizen from every other advanced nation in the world is provided health care.
Republicans balked at this as “socialized medicine”, a government takeover of the individual’s healthcare, a massive tax hike, the responsible subsidizing the irresponsible, the end of private industry in the USA, etc., etc. They claimed that America’s healthcare system was the greatest on Earth, even though tens of thousands of Americans declared bankruptcy every year because of healthcare costs, tens of thousands of Americans died every year of preventable and curable health issues, millions of Americans had no health care coverage, millions of Americans went to hospital emergency rooms as their only source of health care, and then couldn’t pay their bills. And by the way, who do you think ends up paying those bills for that extremely inefficient form of health care delivery? That’s right, folks…ALL OF US.
In stepped Barack Obama with a plan for a sorta-kinda universal health care that covered everyone not already covered, as long as they filed an income tax return. That was the enforcement mechanism, i.e., you would be required to purchase PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare insurance if you didn’t already have it, and if you didn’t, you’d be fined a paltry $95 on your income tax return. That was Obamacare, and it preserved the private, for-profit health insurance companies.
Mind you, it carries a stipulation that these companies cannot profit beyond a certain percentage, and that if they begin to do so, they must rebate the surplus back to their customers. There are also stipulations, good ones in fact, that prevent lifetime caps on insurance expenses, prevent the companies from dropping you if you get sick or have pre-existing conditions (such as being a female), allow you to stay on your parents’ plan to age 26, mandate coverage of preventative services such a mammograms, colonoscopies, lab work, mental illness services, etc.
But under other countries universal health care programs, these have existed forever.
Barack Obama has one monumental failing, albeit a very noble one. He believes most people are good and noble and honest and intelligent and will listen to reason and evidence and data and merit. He’s a good man that believes that if he honestly and honorably tries to meet the opposing side half way, the other side will honestly and honorably do the same. He’s woefully wrong.
His attempt to find a civilized, intelligent, fair, compromising, inclusive solution blew up in his face because the other side had absolutely no intention of ever EVER working with him to implement ANY change to the archaic inefficient for-profit-based health-care system that the USA has suffered under since forever, and which every other advanced country in the world has left behind decades ago.
Obama will recover from this because more people will benefit than won’t. But it didn’t have to be this way.