The following is an excerpt of a Des Moines Register editorial on the Affordable Care Act published Saturday, September 14. And yes, to their credit, they used the “L” word.
For nearly a century, American presidents have tried to provide health insurance to the people of this country. Woodrow Wilson proposed a single-payer health care system modeled after plans in Germany and Great Britain. Harry Truman advocated a plan financed through payroll taxes. In 1965, Congress created Medicare for seniors and Medicaid for the poor. Yet efforts by both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton to help more people were unsuccessful, and millions of people remained uninsured.
Americans finally got fed up. Poll after poll showed they supported major reform. They had watched too many neighbors and friends declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. People were left helpless when they got sick and insurers canceled their policies. People knew it was wrong for the wealthiest country in the world to leave residents without something as basic as medical care. So in 2008, voters sent a Democrat to the White House and Democrat majorities to both houses of Congress. The voters wanted something to be done about health reform.
Instead of going it alone, Democrats reached out to Republicans to help craft a bill. In an attempt to gain support from Republicans, Democrats negotiated away good ideas, including expanding the Medicare program and creating a new government insurance program to compete with private insurers. Suggestions from Republicans were incorporated into the bill, but in the end, not a single Republican voted for reform. Some dedicated the next three years to badmouthing the law, while offering no viable alternative for insuring millions of people.
Iowans should understand this history on the eve of implementing major provisions that will finally connect millions of Americans with health insurance. Republicans would have people believe they were left out of the process of crafting the law. They weren’t. They say they oppose “government” insurance, even as they enjoy coverage largely paid for by taxpayers. While the Affordable Care Act protects people from insurance company abuses and generates revenue to reduce the federal deficit, opponents continue to perpetuate lies about the law.
Americans are trying to understand the complex law. Myths about it only make that more difficult. They should be dispelled.
The editorial goes on to dispel several “myths” purposely put forward by opponents of the law and explains that the Affordable Care Act /Obamacare is not a “government takeover” of health care, and that the law is beneficial to young people, businesses and seniors:
Some opponents of reform are working to convince young Americans the law is uniquely unfair to them. They have put together clips of 20-somethings saying that they are burning their “Obamacare draft card” or that they can’t pay for “somebody else’s health insurance” because they are paying back student loans. It is the epitome of irresponsibility to encourage anyone to avoid obtaining coverage. The message also assumes young people have no idea how health insurance works right now.
The 20 million people between the ages of 19 and 34 who now obtain coverage from an employer are already subsidizing older coworkers and bosses. And as these 19- to 34-year-olds age, the next generation of workers will subsidize their care. That is how insurance works. It pools everyone together and spreads risk and costs among them all.
What opponents aren’t telling these young Americans: Thanks to Obamacare, you can stay on your parents’ coverage longer or pay the cheapest rates for coverage through the new marketplaces. Rather than being beholden to an employer because you need health insurance, you can buy it on your own, freeing you to start your own business, go back to school or stay home with a child.
Some politicians opposed to the law want Americans to forget this country’s history. They want us to forget about those who couldn’t afford prescriptions, couldn’t get help with mental health problems or remained in dead-end jobs for the health insurance. They want us to forget about the huge profits private insurers raked in while they refused to sell coverage to people with pre-existing health problems.
And they especially want us to forget that before Obama was elected and Democrats gained control of the U.S. House and Senate, Republicans had years to reform this country’s health care system. But they didn’t. Now they’re trying to stand in the way of needed changes. That is a bit of history Americans should remember in the next election.