Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Irony Can Be So Ironic: Affordable Care Objections

Listening to the arguments from the Supreme Court yesterday, the "irony can be so ironic" file had to be opened wide.  When President Obama approached the health care debate, he looked at recent history.  Republicans went nuts over "Hilary-care" and he wanted to avoid that kind of spectacle, so what did he do?  He listened to Republicans -- mistake number 1.

When the Clintons came out with their managed care approach, the extremely conservative Heritage Foundation came up with a different approach.  In line with their free market idolatry, it forced everyone into private insurance.  Never mind that government controlled Medicare provides better service, better outcomes, and better cost-savings, they put forward a plan that took government out of the game except as an enforcer to drive everyone into the private insurance market, thereby enriching the insurance companies.  This conservative approach was embraced by Republicans and pushed by several prominent Republican senators.

So, when he started out working on healthcare issues, Obama figured that it would be a thoughtful thing to reject the common sense approach that works in every other industrialized country, the approach that has empirically demonstrated better outcomes for less money, and he would instead build the Republicans own plan into his as its very core.  He would champion the conservative approach to healthcare coverage.  He would appease the conservatives and tell the rest of the country that such a move was politically necessary to get health coverage for all Americans.  It was a pragmatic surrender.  To get something, he would have to give them pretty much exactly what they wanted.  I mean, after doing that, the plan would have to garner Republican support, right?  I mean, there's no way they could lampoon their own plan as "socialist" or anything.  That would be hypocritical and dishonorable, and these are Republicans who aren't looking to score cheap political points by harming innocent Americans, right?

And so the entire law -- the one that makes sure that those who have pre-existing conditions will not die from lack of care or bankrupt their families from conditions that are no fault of their own, the one that takes newly graduated college students who cannot find a job because the last administration wrecked the economy and allows them to remain on their parents' health insurance plan, the one that keeps immoral and uncaring insurance corporations from searching for legal loopholes to deny care to very sick people --  that law may be undermined.  Why?  Because the part of the plan that the Republicans put forward turns out to possibly be unconstitutional.  If Obama had put forward Medicare for everyone or some version of a robust public option, the arguments that conservatives made in opposing their own idea would not be possible.  The law would stand.  But because he tried appease Republicans, the Republicans may have successfully run him over.

The wonderful ironic twist on this ironic twist is that because the flaw is of conservative origin, certain Republicans embraced it, including the man who is most likely to be Obama's challenger in the upcoming election.  Romneycare is not like Obamacare because Romney is a moderate. It is similar because it was being pushed at the time by conservatives.  It is a conservative plan that he put into place.  And so, in the end, what could be a massive defeat may be a wash politically.  Of course, for normal American families who suffer unfortunate happenings, it will be a tragedy.  But, hey, the corporations will be happy and THAT is what really matters.