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The Left, the Right, and Obama Care.

 The recent confusion over the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), or "Obama Care," is exacerbated by sharply drawn political battle lines.  

Supporters have tried to clear up the confusion with "sweeping campaigns to shift the conversation this summer and fall from politics to practical effects health care reform will have on consumers." [1]

Not surprisingly, however, the politics remain, with the latest attention on Obama Care's crashed health care website.  

The GOP has conducted a political three-ring circus in its opposition to Obama Care: "Spread as much confusion and dishonesty about the law as possible, with the explicit goal of preventing Americans from realizing what benefits it carries for them." [2]

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative "cousin" to the GOP, put up a radio ad that blurs fiction and reality:  "Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures...if we can't pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?" [3] says a mother acting concerned, who may just as well be fictional if she isn't already. dismissed the ad. [4] Not being able to pick your own doctor is a false statement. It's one effort out of many to maintain a confusion conspiracy.  

Send in the clowns: Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attempted an imitation of actor Jimmy Stewart as a politician conducting a marathon filibuster in the film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." But it was evident that Cruz was not, at least mentally, in Washington as he physically maintained a 21 hour "filibuster."  At one point, Cruz "delighted" his Senate audience with a reading from "Green Eggs and Ham" by celebrated children's author Dr. Seuss. He didn't do it justice, saying that Obama Care was a temptation, to just try it (you'll like it). Speaking for U.S. citizens-which has been a monumental effort for the GOP given political disabilities-Cruz said that they were not tempted because "they did not like it in a House, they did not like it with a mouse." [5]

Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and African-American token Dr. Ben Carson went beyond where no Republican has gone before when they claimed that Obama Care was equal to slavery. Carson: " is slavery, it is, in a way, slavery, because it is making us all subservient." [6]  He also made the absurd claim, especially coming from a doctor, that Obama Care was "socialized" medicine and thus a slippery slope to total socialism. This has been, however, a repeated attempt by the Right to take a  word, "socialism," and use it simply for its bad connotations; but with no content or accuracy.  

On FOX news, Palin attempted to give a history lesson, brave trooper that she is after discrediting herself in the past. "What Barack Obama seems to want is to go back before those days when we were in different classes based on different incomes, based on color of skin." [7] There was inequality and there was racism, but she has it ass backwards. Obama would have been a victim of slavery, pre-1861, and it was the Democratic Party, with a stronghold in the U.S. South, that would have supported his potential bondage.  

Dismissing GOP political antics, what is Obama Care really about?  A major GOP gripe has been that it will be too expensive, e.g., with the expansion of Medicaid. But a report from the Congressional Budget Office published in 2012 stated that it won't be no more expensive than Medicaid without health reform, "while providing 17 million more low-income adults and children." [8]

Obama Care will have a different effect on different individuals, according to their specific circumstances. You can purchase it if one's workplace doesn't offer health insurance through the Obama Care Health Insurance Exchange. The OCHIC is a "marketplace" where people can choose which plan would be the most beneficial to them, including comparing prices of the various plans.

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) was created to relief small businesses of the burden of paying for plans they can't afford with more differentially-priced options; thus, the potential for choosing a reasonably-price plan compared to a more expensive one.

Medicaid expansion would benefit people between the ages of 19 and 65 who are living 138% or less below the federal poverty line. [9]      

A major focus is on low-income people, understandably so, given the economic inequality.  

Obama Care has been sharply criticized by sources on the Left side of the political spectrum as well, but for different ideological reasons.

A Tom Tomorrow cartoon strip satirically compared it with "a Byzantine, market-based system first championed by the Heritage Foundation."  

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did a flip flop when initially opposing Obama Care because of the belief that the mandatory clause (paying for care or paying a penalty for not paying) within it was unconstitutional. Then, turned around and defended the decision to make the ACA law. Roberts, neoconservative that he is, saw benefits for the private health care industry. Dr. Clark Newhall reflected this in the title, and content, of his article, "Obama Care as Corportists United." [10] Newhall called Obama Care a "huge bailout for another failing industry - the health insurance industry." [11]  

Howard Dean, former Democratic presidential candidate and a physician, called Obama Care a "bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG." [12]  Lobbyists for private corporate giants WellPoint, Aetna, Cigna, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson have contributed heavily to tailoring Obama Care to their bottom line.  

A major architect, overall, of the Obama Care bill, Elizabeth Fowler, was Senator Max Baucus's (D-OH) chief health policy lawyer, and went on to travel within the unholy alliance from government to corporation, a private position with Johnson & Johnson. [13]  Big PhRMA (the pharmaceutical industry) became an indulgent beneficiary of the law drafted by Fowler. [14]  

Despite the positives offered by Obama Care (Medicaid expansion, Medicare tinkering, etc.), it is still the product of a current political system dominated by the private corporate, healthcare bureaucracy and its political allies, both Democrat and Republican. With its ideological structure still intact-which still means the usual increasing expenses-combined with the mandatory clause-where one would have to buy a healthcare plan or pay a penalty-commoners could be more between a rock and a high place.  

The public option still could have been part of the Obama Care package, and would have been a litmus test for private insurance in competition with it. But, it didn't go that far, naturally. In all probability, the public option would have been overwhelmingly chosen by the public, particularly after it was effectively presented and established based on affordable health care.

Of course, the privatized health industry couldn't allow that, its objective of using healthcare to further private monopoly-rather than the public interest- being threatened.  While there is a desire to keep politics out of the issue of Obama Care, the political battle lines won't make that possible, but rather inevitable.


[1] Young, Jeffery, Huff Post Business section (06/18/2013).

[2] Sargent, Greg, The Plum Line (08/15/2013).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Hill (09/252013).

[6] Burstein and Isenberg, Salon (10/14/2013).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Bechtel, Marilyn, Peoples World (11/14/2012).

[9] Obama Care web site,

[10] Newhall, M.D., Clark,

[11] Ibid.

[12] Hermann, Burkely,

[13] Ibid.

]14] Ibid.

© 2013 David Starr            

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Comment Preferences

  •  The is a practical side (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...beyond ideology.

    The whole idea of insurance is to pool risks that happen or might happen to everyone in a huge single savings account that pays out as those risks happen.  The contributions to that savings account in principle are uniform across all members of the pool.  And a little math shows that over the long term, an arrangement like that benefits everyone in the pool even if it doesn't at a single point in time.

    The larger the pool, the more financial risks are balanced.  The ultimate insurance pool would be the entire global population.  A national pool for insurance is the penultimate risk pool.

    If your society is premised on a fundamental right to life, the first social choice is between providers as employees of government (UK National Health Service and US Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics) or having an insurance plan that pays individual providers.  One way or another, health care in a society in life is a  right becomes an element of infrastructure.   Everyone must have access to lifesaving services.

    So the ideological argument comes down to whether the society recognizes the fundamental right to life.   Once that one is settled (I think the Declaration of Independence settled that ideological argument in the US), health care is a required part of the infrastructure.

    If it's part of the infrastructure and everyone must have some basic level of care, it is not longer possible to structure it as a market.  Full Stop.   Because markets allocate scare resources according to ability to pay.

    So the only question becomes how to finance the right to life for those people who do not have the ability to pay providers to save their life.  Right now the system punts this issue.  Obamacare uses subsidies to people who are defined as not having the ability to pay, requires individual expenditures for the difference, and punts the people who fall through the cracks.  Single-payer collects taxes and pays for the care for everyone.

    The question is which of those systems, delivers care to people with the lowest transaction costs.  It turns out that there is ample evidence from many countries that that system is a single-payer system that sets uniform prices for providers.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:17:33 AM PST

    •  Brilliant (0+ / 0-)

      Really should be nub of its own diary:

      Once that one is settled (I think the Declaration of Independence settled that ideological argument in the US), health care is a required part of the infrastructure.

      If it's part of the infrastructure and everyone must have some basic level of care, it is not longer possible to structure it as a market.  Full Stop.   Because markets allocate scare resources according to ability to pay.

      So the only question becomes how to finance the right to life for those people who do not have the ability to pay providers to save their life.

      "The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health-care system in America that certainly does need more help..." ~Sarah Palin

      by MsGrin on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:52:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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