The 2010 Health Care Reform Law
Does it Make Sense for America?
Before passage of the 2010 Health Care Reform Law, most Americans would have agreed that our health care system was flawed. And they would have cited high premiums, rapidly rising costs, insurance companies denying coverage at their discretion, and millions of American citizens unable to afford quality, reliable health care at affordable prices. So why now the cry to appeal health care reform, which appeared to have remedied many of those flaws?
Both political parties share responsibility for the flap-doodle. While health care misinformation is now at war-time propaganda levels, the roots of the problem began before the bill was passed. Among them were the lack of objective debate; ambiguous wording of the voluminous 1,017-page bill; wide disagreement between Democrats on how to implement universal health care; the appearance of impropriety—Washington making customary side deals to purchase passage of the law; and the inability of the President to frame the goals and objectives for reform in simple, easy-to-understand language.
To add insult to injury, we are now bombarded with distorted truths and overt misinformation about the 2010 Law. If Mark Twain were alive today, he might have diagnosed our problem as follows: “What gets most Americans into trouble in this health care debate is not that they know so little, but that they know so many things that ain’t so.”
Giving credibility to borrowing Twain’s assertion are polls showing an alarmingly disproportionate number of Americans who believe these things that ain’t so, including such fabrications as the new health care law covers illegal immigrants; Americans have no choice in the health benefits they receive; death panels will decide who lives; the government will set doctors’ wages; and no chemo treatment for older Medicare patients.
Per PolitiFact, the number one that ain’t so for 2010 because virtually every Republican leader told it repeatedly to the American public was: the health care reform law is a “government takeover of health care.”
The facts show that the 2010 Health Care Reform Law does not allow the government to operate the health care system. Unlike Canada, England and numerous European countries, public-sector or private-sector insurance companies are responsible for operations in the USA. An accurate statement is: the current health care reform law of the land provides (95%) universal coverage through regulated private markets.
So what do we do now? Do we accept the Law as currently written? Do we tweak it to improve it? Do we repeal it? And if so, what do we replace it with? If the “individual mandate,” requiring everyone to have health insurance by 2014, is deemed unconstitutional, is it possible to have universal coverage? And who pays for the medical costs of the uninsured? What happens to the one in seven Americans who did not have or could not afford health insurance before the 2010 Law? Is it still possible to have universal health care by dramatically lowering the age of Medicare?
Whatever answers we eventually embrace as a country, it is important for well-informed citizens to honestly debate health care reform. And, before axing the 2010 Law—if that’s our country’s choice—or trying to answer the aforementioned questions, we need to identify objectively the pros and cons about the current law. Branding or demonizing it as “Obamacare” or “the work of liberals” does not make for constructive dialogue.
If a person is interested in being well informed, innocent of knowing things that ain’t so, and engaging in healthy, civil debate, help is available. Several organizations, ones not beholden to any political party or private interest groups can provide accurate information about the 2010 Heath Care Law. A few of them are The Kaiser Family Foundation, Families USA, AARP, and Docs for America.
While I would like to see an amenable resolution to the health care issue, my motivation for writing this article incubated during the 2010 elections in southern Arizona. One candidate tried to unseat Gabrielle Giffords by bombarding the Tucson landscape with billboards reading, “Giffords forced Obamacare on You!” Many voters accepted this that ain’t so with little or no knowledge of the 2010 health care reform law and, they weren’t embarrassed by the lack of civil, constructive debate on this issue. After the assassination attempt on Giffords’ life, I vowed to do what I could do to try to convince people that we need to have rules for civil debate if our democracy is going to work.
P.S. As I prepared this article for a press release, I was pleased to see Bill Frist, a medical doctor and former Senate Majority Leader (R-Tenn.), telling his constituents that instead of mounting an effort to repeal the Health Reform Law, Republicans should use it as a “platform” for improvements. He further stated that the law has elements that Republicans should be able to get behind, particularly its “federalism” approach to providing health care. “(The Law) has many strong elements, and those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented.”