Yesterday, I noted the anger directed at the Chief Justice by Republicans furious that he failed to strike down the Affordable Care Act. It was yet another aspect of Republican fury over any effort to extend access to health insurance.
The Capitol Times, a Wisconsin newspaper, recently ran an article about the GOP’s fixation on repealing the hated “Obamacare.”
What is this Republican obsession about what was once so derisively called Obamacare?
It makes no difference if it’s a supposedly enlightened Republican like Paul Ryan or an over-the-top right-winger like Ted Cruz. Neither can get through a speech without blaming the Affordable Care Act for all of the nation’s problems and insisting that it be repealed — yesterday, if not sooner….
Evidence continues to pour in that Obamacare has dramatically changed for the better the lives of millions of Americans. None of that fazes the Republicans in Congress or those on the presidential trail.
Let’s be honest. If opposing Medicare wasn’t so politically damaging, most Republican conservatives would advocate its repeal, too. I’m old enough to remember the hysteria and outrage that accompanied passage of Medicare, and the dire predictions that it would erase incentives for people to go to medical school–after all, why spend all that time and money learning to heal people if you couldn’t make out like a bandit once you established a practice?
Apparently, people are still going through medical school, and Medicare has worked well enough that it has joined the “third rail” political status enjoyed by Social Security. Not so the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” At least not yet.
The real question–to which I have no answer–is why every attempt by government to expand access to basic medical care meets with such deeply-seated animosity from conservatives.
Let me be very clear: objecting to the way a particular program is fashioned, disputing whether this or that provision is likely to achieve its goals, concerns over cost-benefit ratios and the like are perfectly appropriate matters for debate. To the extent that arguments about the ACA are “deep dives” into the policy weeds–legitimate differences of opinion about the best way to achieve a goal–they are both reasonable and productive; they can only help improve the law.
But no one who has actually followed the GOP’s multiple efforts to repeal Obamacare could conclude that the party’s objections are based upon anything other than a visceral rejection of the very idea that government has a role to play in extending access to health insurance to people struggling to afford it. That rejection is sometimes clothed in policy pretenses, but the pretense is obvious. Probably the most honest exchange was at the GOP Presidential debate that included Ron Paul (not Rand); when a moderator asked him how he proposed to make healthcare available to poor people, he basically said “let them die.”
And the audience, if you will recall, applauded wildly.
“Let them die” is at the bottom of this frantic rejection of the ACA, and it’s what I don’t get. Any psychiatrists or psychologists out there who can explain this particular lack of humanity and compassion?
The United States is the only modern western democracy that does not have universal access to healthcare. Our refusal to implement a single-payer system doesn’t just allow poor people to die, as I have previously explained, it actually costs us much more money and impedes economic development.
What’s wrong with us?