While everyone agrees the economy will be the deciding issue of the November election (just 4 months away), the Supreme Court's affirmation of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, ie Obamacare, has introduced health care into the conversation. Democrats, of course, are delighted that their efforts have been rewarded with a legal imprimatur. The 'pubs, from what I can tell, like most of the elements of the law - they just don't like the "Obama" in Obamacare.
They think this can be a big issue for them this fall, energizing those opposed to the law already partially in effect. They think the polls - which have been 50-50 on the issue - show a big chunk of America doesn't want this medical prescription. I think they take on this repeal strategy at their peril.
First, many of those opposed to ACA don't think it goes far enough - they want universal national insurance. And a big chunk of the others on the "no" side are just not sure. They represent what my mother used to say: if you don't know, vote no. Surer than God made little green apples, this group will come around fast when they find they won't lose their doctors or their Blue Cross, that coverages will improve, and, when the full plan kicks in, costs will go down for everyone.
Here is what the White House claims are some of those good elements:
* Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.
* Soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
*Preventive care will still be covered free of charge by insurance companies--including for women and wellness visits for seniors.
* By August, millions of Americans will receive a rebate because their insurance company spent too much of their premium on administrative costs or CEO bonuses.
*5.3 million seniors will continue to save $600 a year on their prescription drugs.
*Efforts to strengthen and protect Medicare by cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse will remain in place.
Then you add parental coverage until age 26, support for medical technology, support for preventive care, support for health centers...and on and on. Plus it is the right thing to do! This is good stuff, the kind of coverage every civilized country in the world offers its citizens. It is not the evil the opposition portrays it (the uber-rich Koch Brothers are currently financing a $9 million anti-Obamacare media blitz).
The GOP is hitting on the legal justification of the law under Congress' "tax" powers. What they are not saying is that you will only pay a penalty if you can afford insurance and refuse to buy it - ie the freeloaders (probably 1%) who want to use the ER as their health center yet pay nothing. The system, like car insurance, home insurance, life insurance and every other form of insurance requires broad participation to succeed. It's not rocket science: we can only get the expanded coverage if everybody pays. It's kind of like Social Security - which the GOP would also like to repeal if it could - in that the social contract between one generation and another requires an all-in commitment.
So, for me, I am delighted with the new law and encourage our political leaders to implement and improve it as the years go on, just as we have with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Senior Citizen Drug Coverage. If the Republicans want to tear down this safety network - and the ACA - they do so at their political peril.