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Obamacare: Somebody, please tell the whole truth

27 March 2017

The Affordable Care Act, routinely referred to as Obamacare, was signed on March 23, 2010. Referring to the program, “Obamacare Summary”, at Obamacare.net says, “It was created to make healthcare more affordable and easily accessible to a wider range of Americans.” Seven years later, Obamacare is failing terribly. Some describe it as imploding. Amazingly, many in America, including politicians and general citizens, are vehemently opposing Republican efforts to repeal and replace this legislation. Protests are raging across the nation.

obamacareOne has to wonder how it can be that so many people want to keep in place a program that is not working anywhere near what was promised and is on the verge of total collapse. The possible explanations include, but are not limited to: individuals expecting society to provide health care for every citizen, no matter a person’s failure to act responsibly; citizens not understanding the perilous state of the program; the general entitlement mentality that has taken up residence in our country. Whatever the reason, or reasons, for this unfathomable demand by some to keep Obamacare in place, somebody needs to tell the whole truth about the danger it poses.

I contend that politicians do not tell the whole truth regarding Obamacare and what can reasonably be done by way of repealing and replacing it. The critical word in that statement is “reasonably.” This assessment is especially true of Republicans, but also falls at the feet of Democrats and independents. As is the case with so many challenging issues facing our nation, these politicians are so focused on winning reelection and holding onto power that they hesitate to speak any truth that jeopardizes reelection or retention of power.

Elected politicians and those who benefit from close ties to them speak to the “safe” talking points for repealing and replacing Obamacare. Some of these safe talking points follow:

1. Contrary to President Obama’s promise, participants have not been able to routinely keep their doctor or their plan.

2. Annual premium savings to families are not averaging $2500, as was promised.

3. Following from “Obamacare’s implosion” by Stephen Moore:
a. “In 2017 about one in five Obamacare enrollees will have only one insurance plan to choose from. One third of counties have only one insurer. That’s a lot of choice and competition. It’s like what Henry Ford said about the Model T, you can have it in any color as long as it’s black. This contraction of the market is going to get worse in a hurry, which is why Hillary Clinton wants a ‘public option,’ which will soon be your only option.”
b. “The few remaining Obamacare defenders meekly say that most people are not facing 22 percent premium hikes because most Americans are in employer plans. But those employer plans are starting to see the same rising price pressures.”
c. “Instead of 24 million covered as promised, the number is half that, or 11.4 million. The vast majority of Americans who have gotten health insurance under the new law were dumped into Medicaid. This is a welfare program for people with very low incomes. Shouldn’t we define success in America when fewer, not more people are receiving welfare?”

4. Businesses that have more than 50 full-time employees must provide health insurance for them. To avoid this requirement, some businesses are employing more part-time personnel and, thereby, avoiding the coverage requirement. This adversely impacts full-time employment rates and employee income.

Those are some of the talking points that politicians and their surrogates will address because they are palatable to citizens. On the other hand, what follows are some of the not so palatable Obamacare considerations that are not addressed directly. Doing so gets to the whole truth:

1. The mandate that every American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty unless they get an exemption is absolutely essential to Obamacare. Premiums from the healthy are needed in order keep premiums reasonable for the sick.

2. Among far too many, there is the conviction that health care is a right. Reference after reference states that nowhere in the Constitution is health care presented as a right. This health care as a right mindset should be factually challenged because allowing it to take even greater hold in the thinking of Americans further complicates successfully addressing the issue. The high hurdle in addressing the “health care as a right” issue is in the courts and legislators repeatedly stretching the Constitution to provide rights not stated therein. Regarding this matter, Gregory Curfman says this in an article titled, “King V. Burwell And A Right To Health Care:” “The Constitution itself does not stipulate a general right to health care, but a patchwork of rights to certain aspects of health care have emerged over time from both constitutional and statutory law.”

3. As harsh as it might sound, open and honest discussion of fairness should be brought into the deliberations. Is it fair to Americans who act responsibly that they are made to financially support others who do not? There are those who, through no fault of their own, fall on hard times. I am not talking about them. Consider the person who, by their choosing, drops out of free public school, pursues no marketable skill, repeatedly makes destructive life choices and shows no effort to turn his or her life in a positive direction. Should taxpayers be required to provide health care for that person?

4. Governor Roy Cooper, North Carolina, is pushing for Medicaid expansion as allowed and promoted under Obamacare. Many states have done the expansion and, politically, doing so, probably wins votes. However, I contend Stephen Moore, in the article, “Obamacare’s implosion,” tells the whole truth when he writes: “…Medicaid is such a bad insurance program — with many doctors and treatment centers refusing to take Medicaid enrollees — that the health results of those in the program are barely better than for those with no insurance at all.”

5. Mainstream media makes every effort to present Obamacare in a positive light by focusing on individuals who benefit from participation and giving full coverage to those who protest in favor of keeping the program. There must be much more visible telling of the stories of those caught in the implosion of Obamacare. An example is the situation of Leslie Kurtz, as told in an article by Tom Murphy and Meghan Hoyer, titled, “What if there’s no affordable insurance to buy?”:

“Leslie Kurtz needed three plates, eight screws and a big assist from her insurer after breaking every bone in her ankle while white water rafting. Coverage she purchased through a public insurance exchange established by the federal health care law paid $65,000 toward surgery and the care she needed after the 2015 accident. But that protection may not exist next year because insurers have abandoned the Knoxville, Tennessee resident’s exchange. As of now, Kurtz has no future coverage options, and she is worried.”

6. In the great press for all Americans to have access to health care, I hardly hear any mention of the doctor shortage faced by this nation, even before Obamacare, and now exacerbated by implementation of this program. The result is that we have more people seeking care from a pool of too few doctors. The result has to be doctors spending less time with patients, increased physician burnout, and more than usual early retirements among doctors. This condition has to be addressed and made a factor in determining the direction of health care in America.

The point of what is presented above is that Obamacare is “imploding”, while individuals and groups across America protest vociferously to keep the program in place. Congressional Democrats are contributing absolutely nothing to finding a way to put in place health care that works. Instead, they are fighting “tooth and nail” against Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. All of this opposition is given credibility in the thinking of many Americans because it is treated empathetically by mainstream media. This is a formula for creating “a mess” – and a mess is what we have in Obamacare.

Correcting, or cleaning up, a mess requires confronting and responding to the whole truth of the situation. The call here is for people in positions of leadership to put aside boundless pursuit of political position and power…then tell the American people the whole truth about what is possible, reasonable, and financially affordable by way of health care in this country. Some call for citizens to “speak truth to power.” This is one of many instances where people in positions of power need to speak the whole truth to citizens.

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