Monday, September 5, 2011

If You Are Against The Affordable Care Act You Are Either Brainwashed or ... A Republican Presidential Candidate

The more I hear about the Affordable Care Act and the good it will do for countless millions of Americans, the more convinced I am that it was a great thing that it passed. The more proud I become to live in a nation where we actually, get this, try to do the right thing for one another. The added bonus? It will also save money! In fact the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the current drive to repeal it would add $210 billion to our deficits from 2012 to 2021, were it to succeed. (Link)

So, expanded care, and it saves money? What a boondoggle! (Note: for the irony impaired, I am being sarcastic.)

Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act not because they think it will fail, and raise expenses, it won't, and they know it, but because they fear it will work. And their blind allegiance to the religion of non-intervention in the workings of the market will be shown to be not only intellectually dishonest, but bankrupt.

It will never cease to amaze me that we tolerate a patch-ass system of half measures for our health care that cost more than anywhere else in the first world, and deliver less. That we die younger here than in, say, Canada, have higher infant mortality rates and pay twice as much for it. I would think that those who are so vocal when it comes to the "right to life" that they advocate bombing clinics would take a moment to think about the young lives being wasted in the name of more and more corporate profits. But why start now?

Here's one for instance. Although the provision that keeps insurance companies from treating "pre-existing" conditions has yet to be enacted there are measures in place to help pregnant women get care. Did you know that insurance companies will turn pregnant women down because pregnancy can be considered a pre-existing condition? Well, it is.

Our local muckrakers at the LEO magazine wrote a nice article about this. There is something called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. PCIP is part of the Affordable Care Act, and it keeps, as the name implies, people covered if they have the dreaded pre-existing conditions. There is a pool of $5 billion set aside to cover people through PCIP, but no one knows about it yet.

In my state, Kentucky, which virtually always ranks near the bottom in everything coming to good health, and hear the top in poverty, only 140 Bluegrass Staters have enrolled in this program, despite thousands and thousands not having insurance. They just don't know about it. And if the Republicans have their way they will never get the chance to learn about it before the plan is defunded once and for all. Kill it before it can save more lives. Now there's some right to life right there.

Even better PCIP is cheap. In my state I would only pay $177 to get it, a fraction of what COBRA costs. And far, far cheaper than the cost of a funeral.

In November 2010 I covered Sen. Rand Paul's victory celebration in Bowling Green, Ky. for New York magazine. There I spoke with a field operative for Paul who railed against the health care bill being rammed down everyone's throats in the dead of night. (These Tea Partiers never say a discouraging word about the black bag job that was the vote for Medicare Part D however.) Then I asked her a simple question: what about the provision in the act that covered you if you have a pre-existing condition. "You know," I said, "we pay into these insurance plans for years, and then when you need it they say you aren't covered!"

She thought about it for a moment. "Well, I've never heard about that."

Yet she hated the Affordable Care Act, even if she didn't understand it, hadn't read it, and didn't know that it would benefit her. Why? Because she was brainwashed, and told to. And that's all she needed. Say the word's "small government" and alot of these self-styled "Libertarians" reflexively salivate and then come in their pants.

But I have met few of these people who are true libertarians. They're just conservatives who realize their brand has been besmirched beyond repair by Bush Jr., Cheney, Wolfowitz and all the other chicken-hawks who send other people's sons and daughters to hot, rocky places to kill and be killed. For weapons of mass destruction that never arrive, or oil that we never get.

Most of these "libertarians" would be all too happy to get urgent care in a hospital if they needed it, but had no insurance. Or would crap their pants if their water ran out, or the power grid went down, or the roads fell apart, or a loved one became injured and needed immediate critical care. And even if they didn't believe in "the system" we would still give them coverage, save their lives, give them water, and the rest. Because we believe a strong nation is a just nation is a fair nation. Or at least I do.

I roll like that. A lot of us do. It's time for those of us who want healthcare to be both more universal and more affordable to start talking back.

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