I know it's much the same as what's been said here many times, but I thought maybe posting this letter to the editor of our weekly newspaper might spark others to think about doing the same. We need to keep hammering at the Republican's mendacity in every was we can in every venue we can reach. Text below.
Charles Knauss did a good job of reporting on reactions to the US Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act, usually referred to as “Obamacare” by Republicans. (KCN 7/5/12) It goes beyond irony into hypocrisy that Republicans oppose the mandate. They came up with the idea in the 1990's as an alternative to the Clinton healthcare proposal. They were all for it then as a means of encouraging individual responsibility. Their Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, implemented just such a plan as Governor of Massachusetts; now he says he will act to repeal it on his first day in office!
Knauss goes on to quote Andy Harris as saying, “Americans have already made up their minds . . . [that the law is not good policy.]” This is true to the extent that a slight majority of those asked about the act oppose it. But it is also true that much of such opposition arises from misinformation peddled by the Republicans. The most recent example is the lie that the mandate is the “largest tax hike in recent history.” This is wrong on several levels. First, it is not all that big: roughly speaking, it starts at 1% and rises to 2.5%. Secondly, it is not a tax, but a tax penalty. That is, it's like the penalty you pay for filing your tax return late. If you file on time, you don't pay the penalty. Similarly, if you have insurance – and over 80% of us do – you do not pay the penalty. There are other exclusions, plus you can avoid the “tax” by getting insurance. So very few will be affected. Thirdly, the cost of providing care to those without insurance gets passed on to those of us who do have insurance, and amounts to a hidden “tax” of about $1000 per year for each of us.
I could go on and on with other examples of misinformation, such as the red herring about “death panels.” But given your space limitations, some specifics of the law's provisions might be more helpful. Knauss's article touched on some of these after the jump, but those who did not read the entire article would have missed important information.
Already in effect:
You can keep your children on your policy until age 26
Children may not be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions
A number of preventive care services are available without co-pays
Insurance companies are required to pay out at least 80% for care
Excess payments over this limit are rebated to customers
Coming into effect shortly:
No denial of coverage because of preexisting conditions for anyone
Coverage cannot be terminated because you are sick
No lifetime limits
Free rider penalty (aka “mandate”)
Most people like these provisions, and as far as I can tell, the Republicans have nothing that would achieve a similar result. Instead, their approach relies on free market mechanisms which will not work in the far from perfect marketplace that is healthcare.