Sunday, March 16, 2014

OBAMACARE IS NOT THE REAL POLITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME

I'm really, really tired of all the hoop-de-doodoo about how terrible Obamacare is, and how the Democrats will lose power soon because of it. Really? Are We the People that stupid? I'm afraid we are.

Is there a reality in America that the majority of people can actually understand? Can people agree to be bothered by the facts, and not just believe the fictions espoused by the plethora of talking heads on digital screens?

How about a very short history lesson to begin being bothered by the facts?  I've selected below a few dates and federal legislative events from a very interesting timeline of medicare enactment:

1912 Social insurance, including health insurance, endorsed in platform of Progressive Party and espoused by its candidate, Theodore Roosevelt.

1935, August 14. Social Security Act signed into law; health insurance excluded.

1943 January. President Roosevelt, in his state of the Union message, calls for social insurance "from the cradle to the grave."

1944, January 19. The Social Security Board, in its eighth annual report to Congress, specifically calls for compulsory National Health Insurance as part of the social security system.

1947 May 19. President Truman, in another special health message to Congress, again requests a National Health Program. S. 1320 introduced by Senators Wagner and Murray; Senator Taft's bill also reintroduced (S. 545).

1962 May 20. President Kennedy addresses the Nation on the Medicare issue in a speech televised from Madison Square Garden.

1964, February 10. President Johnson sends special message, "Health of the Nation," to Congress, advocating Medicare.

1965, July 30. Medicare (as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1965) signed into law by President Johnson.

It took more than 50 years to get national health insurance passed into law, primarily for elderly people on social security. (Take a few minutes to go to the link and read through the timeline; it's fascinating history.) It took almost another 50 years to get a national health insurance plan, based on private insurance, passed into law in the form of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." This was a major accomplishment by a President of the United States.

The politically spun message we now hear all the time is that Obamacare is not working (see footnote (a) for a language note). In other words, the new national health insurance program didn't instantly, on day one, become a success, and was therefore a failure. Give me a break! Once again, let's confuse you with the facts. 

First we'll look at a graph showing ACA enrollment over time, below. These data go through mid-February 2014. The goal of 7 million enrollees by the end of March this year might or might not be met, but the trend line looks good.


Now let's look at who is enrolling by age group. This pie chart looks like enrollment is fairly evenly distributed across age categories. These data tell me that people at the beginning and end of their working lives (18-34 year olds and 55-64 year olds) are enrolling at higher numbers than people in the middle (35-54 years old), or kids (under 18 years old). That seems right to me. 


And what about people who need financial assistance to get health insurance? it looks like those folks who have enrolled and need the assistance are getting it.




Earlier this month, the House of Representatives, including some Democrats worried about the coming elections, passed their 51st attempt to repeal or change Obamacare, as reported on Fox Business (that's right, I looked at Fox Business). A number of Republican-led states have tried to sabotage Obamacare by refusing to implement the Medicaid part of the new law. In other words, the Republican Party has done everything they can to promote the notion that the ACA is a failure, bad for Americans, bad for the economy, proof that Barack Obama is a socialist, and thus created a myth that they are counting on to put them in control of the government in the 2014 and 2016 elections. 

These are the same people who shut down the federal government because, well, because they could. These are the same people who have become noted for being the most do-nothing session of Congress. These are the people who vowed in 2008 to do nothing in Congress other than thwart President Obama at every turn. In other words, nothing at all to do with actually governing the country. 

Is the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, a failure. Absolutely not. Is it perfect in every way? Absolutely not. Should the successes or failures of the ACA be the sole basis for casting a vote in 2014 and 2016? I hope not, but I can't do anything about the epidemic of stupid in this country.


---
Footnotes:
(a) PLEASE people, let's stop using the word "disaster" as in "The Obamacare rollout was a disaster." Hurricane Sandy was a disaster. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan was a disaster. Hurricane Katrina was a disaster. The Obamacare rollout was a failure of technology workers to get it right. 

No comments:

Twitter