Obamacare, aka ACA – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama four years ago. It was an historic political and moral victory in this country, a goal that had eluded presidents of both parties for the entire 20th century.
It has also been the single most misunderstood thing in American history. Opponents like to call it “government-run health care” – a claim which only underscores their ignorance, or reveals them to be liars. Obamacare can accurately be described as government-mandated health care insurance reform.
Basically, the federal government told the private health care insurance companies that they wouldn’t be allowed to continue with their most shockingly immoral practices, such as dropping customers when they get sick, annual and lifetime caps, non-coverage of ‘pre-existing conditions’ – including the condition of being female. It also limits these insurers to profit margins of no more than 20%, requiring refunds of premiums paid by customers if payouts for medical care fall below 80% of premium revenues. To compensate the insurers for cutting into their margins, the government promised millions of new customers to any insurers who wanted to participate in the state-based exchanges (or the federal exchange for people in states which don’t set up their own exchanges). The government set these private companies loose to play by the rules within the framework of the exchanges and compete for new customers. The insurers set their own premiums for policies offering various levels of coverage. The consumer is able to compare ‘apples to apples’ when shopping for the coverage they need at a monthly premium they can afford. There are no government hospitals, no government doctors, no government ‘death panels’.
Beyond this, the ACA also provides funding for preventive care, and market incentives for much greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care, with a major emphasis on digitizing medical records. And it vastly increased the funding available for states to expand their existing Medicaid programs to enable access to health care for millions of Americans who still cannot afford to buy private medical insurance.
The Republican Party has taken a very principled stance against Obamacare and its author. They cannot abide any success for the nation’s first black president. And yes, it really is that horrifyingly simple. They really haven’t even tried to hide it, except for the fact that they wear their white sheets under their business suits.
The Republican-led House of Representatives has taken fifty votes to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. They know the Senate will ignore them. And even if a bill were to somehow reach the president’s desk, he would veto it. The most telling aspect of this flailing around by Boehner & Co. is this: the GOP never gets around to the “replace” part of the deal. They don’t want to replace Obamacare with anything. They just want it to go away… along with every other progressive accomplishment of the past century, including voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, unions, etc.
After the ACA was passed in 2010, the extreme right wing in this country went insane. Lunatics in tricorn hats flooded the primaries to challenge GOP incumbents who had failed to derail Obamacare. Many of them won, and went on to win in the general election that November, displacing more moderate Republicans and a fair share of Democrats. And so the ‘Tea Party’ gained a chunk of seats in the House, which switched over to GOP control. Nowhere near a majority… but overnight they became the tail that wags the Republican dog. So, for more than three years, the neutered Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has scheduled vote after vote to “repeal” Obamacare. And nothing else. He has presided over the least effective Congress in American history. And that is a crime, especially when you realize that President Obama inherited an economy that had almost completely collapsed under the Bush administration. Every other word out of Boehner’s mouth is “jobs”. How many jobs bills has the House GOP championed in the past five years? Zero.
Now here we are, 5 years after Obama was first inaugurated… 4 years after Obamacare was signed into law… 2 years after the national embarrassment of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries… and a year after Obama’s second inauguration. The upcoming 2014 midterm elections will determine whether Obama has a hostile or a cooperative Congress for the last two years of his presidency. Democrats should be BRAGGING about their accomplishments: saving the country and the world from economic catastrophe, saving the auto industry and what’s left of American manufacturing, rescuing all Americans from unscrupulous and immoral health insurance practices and widening the availability and affordability of health insurance for millions, ending two wars that have consumed thousands of lives and trillions of dollars… But instead, we are treated to a defeatist attitude predicting losses in the House and the possible loss of the slim majority in the Senate. Losing seats in the House would guarantee more-of-same, and that would be bad enough for the country. But a GOP majority in the Senate would embolden the right wing crazies and I cannot imagine the damage this nation would suffer.
Note to state and national leaders of the Democratic Party:
Do you know why Barack Obama won two consecutive presidential elections? Because love is stronger than hate. People were drawn to his candidacy. So please stop talking about how bad and evil and terrible and horrible the GOP is. It’s all true! But that truth (sadly) is not going to motivate Democrats to go to the polls in November. You’ve got to give people something positive, something to fight for, something to defend. Give them something to be proud of. Run on your record, trumpet your accomplishments. Show people that Democrats work for them and their families. It’s all true!
Note to Democratic voters:
Get off your asses and vote in November! In the recent special election to fill the vacant House seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, the Republican won by 3,500 votes… in a district where 140,000 registered Democrats did not vote. That kind of apathy in November will do incalculable harm to this nation. All you have to do is cast your vote for the party that represents your best interests. Something the Republicans would stop you from doing, if they could.
Obamacare – brought to you by the Democratic Party – makes me happy.
Day 077 #100happydays