Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Obamacare & The Lack of Loyal (Or Smart) Opposition


I have been, and always will be a proponent of the idea that health care should not be a marketable commodity, but a basic right in the same vein as a compulsory public education. Opponents of this notion seem to be missing a clear view of the Big Picture. Sure, it would be nice if we could live in a society where people were allowed to “decide for themselves” to forgo necessary services like health care insurance without tangible repercussions—the ostensible argument made by universal health care opponents. But allowing individuals the “freedom” to make decisions that on the surface don’t seem capable of affecting others flies in the face of sound fiscal economics. For instance, allowing individuals the right to drop out of school will invariably cost society more in the long run. Study after study points to a lack of basic education (opportunities) tends to result increased chances of becoming reliant of welfare, fewer job prospects, and higher probabilities of being incarcerated—all of which have a burdensome economic impact on society as a whole.
The uninsured tend to cost everyone—insured and uninsured alike—more in the long run due to their propensity to allow minor health concerns to evolve into major health issues, their lack of engaging in preventative health care regimes, and the higher cost they incur for later attending of health care concerns—all of which resulting in higher costs for health-related services, insurance premiums, and percentage of government’s part subsidizing these increased costs.
President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) was the first major attempt in decades to provide a sizable chunk of uninsured Americans a modicum of health care coverage, and address this financially unsustainable health care regime. As radical an idea as it is, Obamacare is something of a compromise; it leverages aspects of the open market to attempt to increase coverage for more Americans while avoiding the stigma of “socialism” inherent in the European model of a single-payer plan—despite passing the initiative with a “supermajority” of Democrats in Congress. Naysayers' predictable doom and gloom for the ACA from the start. Supporters reluctantly embraced the hope that the ACA would be a welcome alternative to unaffordability and arbitrary rejection for those with preexisting conditions (which the ACA prohibited). But let’s just say it…Obamacare (as it had been dubbed) seems to be headed due south in the popularity department. And the issues regarding the government-sponsored online insurance sign-up registry hasn’t helped its likability.
And while I certainly don’t need the likes of Sarah Palin to inform me that Obamacare doesn’t seem to be finding its successful footing, the fact she manages to continue to secure airtime in her attempt to maintain political relevancy says a lot about why we in America cannot provide a serious application to revamp health care affordability. Sure, Palin and her ilk love to chant “get rid of Obamacare,” but when asked to provide an alternative to doing so, the crickets take over. We got a chance to witness this reality last week on NBC’s Today show when host Matt Lauer allowed Palin to once again-seemingly successfully I might add—hit the snooze button on her 15 minutes of fame. Predictably, Palin engaged in so many oppositional talking points that the “interview” (for want of a better term) seemed like two people in the same room having 2 different conversations at times (watch below).

Palin’s positions lacked substance, suggestions, or anything beyond the assertion that Obamacare was in fact an exercise “socialism” that was worthy of shutting down the government in an effort to repeal the new law. As Lauer struggled to get Palin to nail down a less ambiguous alternative to addressing the unaffordability of health care insurance, Palin responded with more talking points and counter policy ambiguities. It was like listening to a child explain why cooties are bad…totally unable to define what they are, but speak a great deal as to why they are “bad.” And this exchange is a testament as to why health insurance affordability and/or coverage will always be an issue that probably won’t be addressed substantively any time soon.—the lack of loyal opposition to what we have now.
What passes for opposition to the ACA currently is nothing more than vague references to “socialism,” and how bad it is. There are no alternatives coming from the opposition. The 1 or 2 there are involve nothing “tax credits” and “other suggestions offered by Republicans” that fail to address the issue at heart. Anything remotely tied to the old, outdated system of employer-based health insurance—when our service-based economy doesn’t pay the average worker enough to afford getting sick, yet alone paying for any hospitalization—isn’t going to work…tax credits notwithstanding. Allowing “job creators” to maintain the freedom to decide who they will cover and who they will not doesn’t allow for “spreading risks” needed to lower costs. And allowing self-serving dullards like Palin, who have nothing more to contribute to the discourse other than vagueness, ambiguities, and ideological talking points that don’t amount to anything more than ramblings of political opportunists who profess to “love America” doesn’t do anything other than continue to entrench our country in political fragmentation.
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