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My mom forwarded me an e-mail.  You know the kind.  Republican swill.  I especially liked the title:  Subject: Fwd: WATCH BEFORE IT'S TAKEN OFF THE INTERNET
Because, yeah, there is so much truthiness that the overkeepers of the internet will surely pull it down post haste.  It is a video from CSPAN.  Clearly revolutionary.

Anyway, here is the link she sent me.  Just a blowhard Republican talking about how the Affordable Care Act is going to end the USA as we know it.  


My reply is below the squiggle.

There are so many lies in this guy's presentation, I don't even know where to start.

First, there is nothing in the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") that lets the government decide who your doctor will be.  There is nothing that prevents your doctor from prescribing the treatment he or she feels is best for you.

There is nothing in the act that "takes away" from the 85% of Americans who have insurance to "give to" the 15% who don't.  And by the way, having dealt day in and day out with people who don't have insurance and who are desperate for any kind of medical care, I would be willing to "give" part of my medical benefits to them to help them have at least basic care.  As it is now, they have to wait until they are in desperate straits and then go to the ER, which is much more expensive to the system as a whole than taking care of the problem before it becomes life-threatening.

Trying to compare cancer survival rates with the UK and Canada is also highly misleading.  First, both of those countries have what is essentially a single-payer system.  In other words, the government provides your health insurance and pays the doctors and hospitals and other medical providers.  They pretty much run all aspects of the health care system.  The Affordable Care Act is nothing like that.  Insurance is still provided through private (for profit) insurance companies.  Doctors and hospitals are still completely independent.  I haven't researched the sources the Congressman cited, but I would be surprised if there was any significant difference in cancer survival rates between the three countries.  And if there is, like I said, our system is not at all comparable to the UK and Canadian systems.

The only thing the ACA does is tell the insurance companies that they have to offer coverage to certain people with pre-existing conditions, who now can't get any insurance at any price.  The ACA also tells the insurance companies that the premium dollars they collect must mostly be spent on medical care for their policy holders.  The insurance companies would be limited to 15% of the premiums collected to pay for administrative expenses and profits for their shareholders.  Do you have any idea how much profit health insurance companies make in America?  Enough to pay their CEO's 5 to 10 million dollars per year in salary and bonuses.  Does that seem right to you?

The ACA also allows children to remain on their parent's health insurance policy until age 26.  Without that provision, I would be paying out-of-pocket for my son's very expensive diabetic care.  The ACA also sets up regional high-risk pools that allow people who can't get insurance from a private company because of pre-existing conditions to get insurance at a reasonable rate.  The ACA also closed part of the "donut hole" for Medicare beneficiaries, so that you will have to pay less out of pocket for your prescriptions each year.

So what is so evil about this bill?  It puts more restrictions on the insurance companies.  It makes it more difficult for them to deny coverage for people who need live-saving things like transplants or cancer treatments.  It keeps insurance companies from retroactively cancelling a patient's policy because they forgot to disclose up front that they had an abscessed tooth 5 years ago, or a yeast infection 10 years ago.  Believe it or not, insurance companies have used these excuses to cancel policies.

What is so bad about the government being involved in regulating the health care industry?  Death panels?  Ridiculous.  Guess what the federal government has been regulating for many decades now--Medicare.  Medicare is one of the most popular government programs that exists.  It is also one of the most efficient.  Overhead costs of the Medicare program run 3-4% per year.  That means that 96-97% of the dollars spent by the government go to paying claims.

Guess what?  That same Republican congressman who is railing against the Affordable Care Act is probably in favor of the Republican's plan to "privatize Medicare."  Rep. Paul Ryan, the golden boy of the Republican caucus, has for the second year in a row proposed a budget that would end Medicare as we know it.  It is not a lie or a misstatement to say that.  Paul Ryan's proposal is to remove the direct government funding of Medicare and replace it with a voucher program.  In other words, instead of getting a Medicare card that would allow you to see any doctor who takes Medicare, you would get a government credit that you would have to use to go into the private insurance market and try to find an insurance company who would issue you a policy to cover your health care.  They could charge a premium that is higher then the amount of your voucher (and probably would).  They could charge you co-pays and deductibles and prescription co-pays.  More importantly, they could restrict you to certain networks of physicians and hospitals.  But the Republicans think this is wonderful because it is the "free market at work."  They think we should all be responsible for making informed choices about our health care.  That is all well and good, but do we really want to put that kind of burden on those who might be poor, disabled, frail, or suffering from dementia?

As the Republicans love to say, America is the greatest country in the world.  It is arguably the richest country in the world.  Yet we can't be bothered to insure that all of our citizens have adequate health care regardless of ability to pay?  Yes, there is a huge amount of waste and fraud in our health care system.  The ACA is designed to address those issues and make the system more streamlined and efficient.  What is wrong with that?

The number one argument opponents make is that "care will be rationed."  First, there is nothing in the law that will lead to that result.  More importantly, everyone needs to know that care is rationed NOW.  It is rationed by your ability to pay.  Have an abscessed tooth?  If you have dental insurance or can afford to pay the dentist, you can be treated.  Can't afford it?  Suffer, and maybe even die (it happens).  Emergency rooms are not the answer for the uninsured.  They only treat acute problems.  For the millions of uninsured with high blood pressure, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, arthritic conditions, etc, etc, etc, there is no help.  These people go untreated and die early.  Many studies of worldwide health outcomes rate the US in the bottom 1/3 in mortality and survival rates for all types of conditions, including infant mortality.  If you are okay with the US having infant mortality rates similar to several third world nations, then vote Republican.

I for one believe that providing adequate medical care to all Americans should be one of our top priorities.  Yes, our country has a deficit, but is mostly due to the huge tax cut Bush enacted for the richest Americans, along with the cost of two unfunded wars he decided to fight.  President Obama inherited these deadweights on our economy and he has had to deal with them.  He hasn't been a perfect president, but he's done a pretty good job under the circumstances.  We can come up with the money to pay for programs that benefit all Americans (like the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, Head Start, and Women's Health Care).  Is it really so important for the richest 1% in this country to keep getting richer and richer?  There are hundreds of studies that show that in the last 20 years, the poorer 99% of Americans have have little or no growth in income, while the richest 1% have gotten ridiculously fabulously more wealthy.

Yet there is an alarming percentage of the American population who believes we should reduce regulations, reduce taxes on the rich, reduce the footprint of government altogether.  I believe they live with the mistaken belief that if only they work hard enough themselves, they will soon be in that 1% and will benefit from the policies.  It is a delusion.  I think we need to call it the Cinderella syndrome or something.  Yes, there are many success stories in America, but we in the 99% need to get real.  We will never be in the 1%, and the policies that benefit the 1% hurt all the rest of us.  It is not class warfare, it is simply being realistic.

To those who would argue that putting more of a tax burden on the rich would push out the job creators, I have one question.   Where are they going to go?  Will taxes be lower in Britain, France, Italy, Russia?  And really, if you look at statistics, the vast majority of jobs in this country are in small and mid-sized businesses.  This argument about the rich "going Galt" (or taking their toys and going home) is nothing more than an idle threat.

I'm sorry for the rant, but this is obviously a subject that I have thought about a lot over the last few years.  I have strong feelings about it.  It breaks my heart to see a child with no insurance who finally comes to see me when they are very sick with pneumonia only because the grandparents come up with the money to pay the bill.  I never charge full price to uninsured patients.  I discount my fees steeply.  I would see patients for free if I could, but I'm not allowed by our clinic guidelines.  There are other doctors like me out there, but they are few and far between.  There are "free" or reduced-priced clinics, but they are also difficult to access.  We have a so-called "free" clinic right across the street from one of our offices, and they charge a minimum of $80 for a dental visit without insurance.

I just hope that people can keep an open mind about the ACA.  Don't demonize it just because it was passed by the Democrats.  I believe that if most Republicans understood what their Republican party wants to do to the social safety net in this country, they would be horrified.  Don't just take them at their word.  For that matter, don't just take Democrats at their word either.  Do some research.  Look for sources that may be independent (that's harder to to do these days with the rise of outfits like Fox News).

We can do this.  We are America.

UPDATE:  My mom responded almost immediately.  She said she didn't know most of this.  She asked if she could forward my response to her friends.  I said yes.  One person at a time.  It might seem tedious, but we just have to keep saying "One person at a time."

Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM PT: Sorry I haven't been around for most of the discussion.  I went to bed early after a long day, and I haven't had time to look at the site at work today.  Thanks for the rec list!  I will look at comments when I get home tonight and respond if I can.

Originally posted to sane on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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