Friday, June 29, 2012
Today while at work, I was listening to the radio, awaiting word of the Supreme Court’s impending shredding of President Obama’s signature legislation piece, The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). Like almost every other person anticipating the same outcome of the attempt to reform the drawbacks inherent in current health insurance regime, I was stunned—after having my expectations validated briefly by premature reporting of the act having been struck down—when the Court upheld the law by narrowest of margins. And after learning that the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts had cast the deciding vote, I walked off my job…since it was predicted by opponents that I would probably lose it anyway thanks to the bill’s inevitable “job killing” effect. I walked outside and looked up, expecting to see daylight sky replaced with an eerie out-of-place starscape where the sky once stood.
Starting to immediately regret that I had walked off my job, I looked around for the dark-suited, dark-shaded agents of the government that I was told would be coming to take away my freedoms…or at worst, take me away to the concentration camps for those of us who have understand The Truth. I got into my car and immediately drove home, being careful not to drive even a single mile-an-hour over the speed limit…lest I call the authorities down on me and push my luck at having escaped the government’s notice. When I got home, I immediately went to the place where I kept my guns; they were still there. No one had taken them! I then called my insurance company (knowing that they wouldn’t have received word of my having walked off my job) and checked on the status of my policy; nothing changed. I was still covered by the plan I had chosen months ago.
No, this scenario didn’t really happen. It was imagination. And so were the many other doomsday scenarios predicted by those opposed to revamping the current health care system. You and I are just as free today as we were the day before President Obama took the Oath of Office. The Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the majority of the president’s health care reform act was a surprising example of what can happen when policy makers can set aside their ideological leanings and make decisions that people can actually benefit from.
Is the ACA a perfect plan? Of course not. It’s not capitalism, but its hardly the example of “socialism” that critics purport it to be. Insurance companies can expect to increase the number of policies, and by extension, profits because of the portion of the bill which mandates purchasing of coverage.
Yes, there is a mandate attached, but government mandates are hardly new; we live with the consequences of them daily, and the sky has yet to fall down. During the 1790s, the Militia Act, pushed by George Washington and James Madison, required citizens to purchase muskets and other military supplies (and it doesn’t matter which hairsplitting distinction one attempts to make, it was a mandate proposed and supported by two of the Founding Fathers, case-closed). Paying taxes, the education of our children, purchasing automobile insurance, even serving on jury duty are all mandates that we live with.
Arguments against the ACA were and continue to be mostly anecdotal and/or ideological, not actual or tangible projections experts. Our society already spends enormous resources on medical care for the uninsured. The annual cost of unpaid care (mostly among the under- or uninsured) is estimated to be about $100 billion per year. This largely gets picked up by local governments or passed along to paying patients in the form of higher hospital bills, or the insured in the form of higher premiums. As it stands, many of us are already paying to those without coverage. As a matter of reality, we already have “rationed” health care in the form of the spreading cost of services; there are already “free riders.” And as for employers who will “not be able to pay” the additional (expected) costs of covering their employees, I have yet to see many credible projections indicating that American businesses will fold en masse as a result of the bill’s requirements.
The bottom line is that none the anticipated (and exaggerated) doom-n-gloom scenarios have occurred since the bill was upheld. You don’t have to take my word for it…go outside and look up at the…chances are its still there. Chances are, you aren’t in chains, and you’re not reading this from a concentration (or re-education) camp. Please get a grip on your paranoia! If many of you are so scared of your “evil government,” then I invite you to take a trip to countries without government, like Somalia and see how bad things can really get!