Young: Obamacare detractors should look at mounting evidence of success
August 7, 2013
Sarah Palin spun the applause meter at the 2008 Republican National Convention when she quoted Ronald Reagan:
"You and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
One wonders what the meter would have read if Palin pointed out that Reagan said those words to warn against the freedom-hating menace of Medicare.
Let's imagine "our sunset years" without Medicare.
The other day, President Obama told fellow Democrats they are on the "right side of history" with the Affordable Care Act.
Looking back to Reagan's "sunset" line, within history's scope, how wrong could one be? And today?
Before adjourning for a month, the U.S. House affirmed its status as American history's most ineffectual legislative body when it voted for the 40th time to abolish or gut the Affordable Care Act.
Fear this, America: On Jan. 1, the most important consumer protections in U.S. health-care history will become law.
No longer will insurers be able to discriminate against people because of pre-existing conditions, where they work or what their genders are.
Most important, hospital bill payers won't be paying for services for so many uninsured Americans, as health insurance will not only be the right it always should have been, but will be an obligation. It will be duly subsidized, understand, because health-care dollars are better spent on the front end, the preventive end, than at the dying end, and in the emergency room.
Let's hear it from the "anti-freeloader" chorus for this, folks — the "no free lunch" crowd, the "boot straps" crowd. Why exactly would this crowd have been stubbornly protective of the status quo, which includes the highest cost of health care in the civilized world, in large part because of the uninsured showing up at the ER, driving up everyone's hospital bills and insurance premiums?
The effort to repeal "Obamacare" flies in the face of the positive indicators already developing around it.
Consider the recent projection from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees that lower costs have extended the life span of the Medicare trust fund. The Affordable Care Act is credited in part for already holding down the cost of Medicare Advantage.
Consider this eat-my-words admission by Obamacare critic and Forbes columnist Rick Ungar about rates submitted by insurers under California's new health exchanges, "I was indeed shocked by the proposed premium rates … far lower than what I expected."
What about the now-delayed employer mandate, portrayed as a costly job-killing cataclysm in the making? An Urban Institute study finds "the law leaves large businesses' costs per person largely untouched and reduces them for small businesses."
In The New Republic, Noam Scheiber comments on the panic besetting tea party devotees as the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act kick in and present themselves on the horizon.
"If you want to appreciate how truly incorrigible conservatives are on the subject," he writes, "I recommend watching them grapple with the early news about Obamacare implementation, which has suggested the program could work better than anticipated.
"It's a bit like watching a speculator learn he's bet his life savings on a failing company — which is to say, chock-full of denial and elaborate self-delusion."
Back to that memorable Reagan line warning about government taking a new role in health care: As we all know, Medicare sucked the freedom right out of our lungs, making America weak and unwilling, with its leeching seniors and workers expecting something for nothing.
Oh, wait. That hasn't happened. This is a great country, and when it covers millions more of us against health catastrophe, it will be greater.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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