President Teddy Roosevelt once said that no country could be strong while it’s citizens are weak and poor. In 1912 he felt that his predecessor wasn’t doing enough to give all Americans a fair shot at acquiring health insurance, so he decided to spread his vision of universal health care for all Americans. He came out of retirement, joined the Progressive Party and ran for president again. His “square deal” spelled out how to insure all Americans, but he failed to gain any traction as a third party candidate. President Franklin Roosevelt (President Teddy Roosevelt’s 5th cousin) picked up the fight for universal health care, eventually settling on enacting Social Security in 1935. In 1948 President Truman made universal health care the platform of the Democratic party, calling his program the “Fair Deal,” and eventually also had to settle. This time to expand social security coverage. In the 1960s President Kennedy continued the fight for universal health care. Sadly, as we all know, his presidency was cut short. President Johnson’s “Great Society,” which was originally called “un-American and socialist” by conservatives (sounds familiar), enacted Medicare and Medicaid, but fell short of the long desired universal coverage. In the 1970s a Republican, President Nixon’s personal experience with family illness and poverty motivated him to push for universal coverage, using private insurers. Meeting in secret, President Nixon and Senator Kennedy crafted the Nixon-Kennedy Health Care Plan of 1974, which would ensure universal coverage for all Americans. The bill, which had a great chance of passing Congress, was never finished in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. In the 1990s President Clinton fought hard to universal coverage but he too was never able to get the bill through Congress.
There is a reason that presidents have been fighting for a better health care system for 100 years. In 2010, over 50 million Americans went about their daily lives with no health insurance. If they got sick, odds are they went bankrupt and you had to foot the bill. Insurance companies could look at an application of a newborn infant, born with a defect, and deny the child coverage. A man who had diligently paid for his own health insurance for his entire life, could get cancer, and the insurance company could drop him. Insurance companies would set annual or lifetime dollar limits on needed care, leaving patients who thought they had coverage with massive medical bills and no hope. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, these are no longer realities.
In 2008 the two leading Democrats running for president brought the health care debate to the forefront of the campaign. When Barack Obama won the presidency, the Democrats maintained control of the House of Representatives, and a super majority in the Senate (a filibuster proof 60 seats), they knew that this would be the time to pass a sweeping health care law. After nearly two years of debate throughout this country, from town halls with screaming citizens, to live on television round tables with the president and member of Congress, they did just that.
Unfortunately they have done a poor job of explaining to the public what the law is, what it does, and what it doesn’t do. While at the same time we have interest groups, and the right wing media telling us lie after lie about the new law. They assume that we can’t do research to find the actual facts, and that we will just listen to them about their death panels, jail time, and and Nazi socialized medicine charges. This mix of not explaining the facts, and the takeover of the narrative by those who are telling lies have lead us to the point where we are today.
After the Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional, there were people standing in front of the court house chanting “I will not comply, I will not comply!!” I’m thinking, ‘so you want ME to pay for your health care then? Who’s the communist now?’
Let’s take a few minutes and look at the actual facts. After you know the facts, you can decide what to believe.
Obamacare is socialized medicine:
For 100 years this has been the charge. People hear it, and sadly they just regurgitate it without actually looking at the facts. The fact is, this charge is false.
A socialist big government takeover of health care would mean that the government, not private health care companies, would provide the actual health care services. The new law mandates that we buy health insurance from private health insurance companies or pay a tax. We are under no obligation to let the government provide our health care, because it simply isn’t a service of the government. We do have Medicare and Medicaid, which are government programs that give subsidized health care to those who qualify, and are being expanded at the discretion of each state.
This law does not create a new sector of the federal government that provides health care; it mandates that you purchase it from a private company.
The individual mandate:
In 2014 if you do not buy health insurance from a private insurance company, you will have to pay a tax when you file in April. The first year the penalty is $95, the next year it will be $325, the following year it will be $695. Once fully phased in the tax will be 2.5% of income for those eligible to file a tax return. The tax may never exceed the cost of the national average ‘bronze’ plans being offered through the new insurance exchange (more on these in a minute).
What if you don’t pay the tax, will they throw you in jail? This claim was actually made on Fox News numerous times during the health care debate. The text of the law prohibits the IRS from seeking to put anyone in jail, tax liens, or property seizure for failure to pay are not allowed. It’s a toothless penalty.
Do undocumented workers receive subsidies or free care?
NO! Just look at the actual text of the law, page 161, line 11
Starting in 2014 insurance exchanges will be set up by all 50 states. These exchanges will provide small businesses and individuals the same purchasing power as a large business. On top of that, these exchanges will provide consumers one stop shopping for health insurance in a place that is transparent, and will save consumers money through comparative shopping and more informed consumers.
At the end of this there is a link where you will hear Mitt Romney explain the benefits of such exchanges.
This is a job killing law:
The 2010 elections were all about jobs. It was no surprise that the first bill passed by the the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress was HR 2 “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” It was passed on January 19th 2011, in Roll Call number 14, with a vote of 245-185. Contrary to some belief, just because it’s the title of a bill (that went nowhere) doesn’t mean it’s based in any fact.
For small businesses with less than 50 full time employees there are no penalties for not offering a health insurance option to employees. It does provide businesses with tax credits for small businesses who provide health insurance to its employees.
For large businesses with more than 50 full time employees there are fines for not offering minimal essential coverage in an eligible employer sponsored plan.
The claims of job loss are speculative and wholly based on the assumption that businesses will hire many part time workers, instead of full time, to avoid offering insurance benefits.
It has been claimed that 150,000-300,000 low wage jobs could be lost. This figure is from an opt-in survey of businesses executives. The US Chamber of Commerce said that the sampling error cannot be calculated in this study.
These figures also don’t take into account the massive increase in new jobs that will be needed in the health sector to fulfill the demand of all of their nearly 50 million new customers.
In Mitt Romney’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision, echoing a number that we have heard countless times now, he said that under this new law 20 million people will lose the current insurance that they have now. This number is strictly based on every single business reacting negatively to the new law, and employing many part time workers.
This will add to the federal deficit:
This claim is again taking advantage of the popular theme of how large our national debt is, and is not based on fact. The numbers that you will hear from those who say this simply do not take into account cost cutting in the future growth of Medicare and higher taxes. The Congressional Budget Office (which all sides agree is correct most of the time, as they are non-partisan) states that his law will reduce the federal deficit by $210 Billion from 2012-2021.
Am I the only one who finds it odd that there are claims it raises taxes AND the deficit at the same time?
How is this paid for, and what is ‘this’?:
The ‘this’ is the money for setting up the insurance exchanges, expansion of Medicaid eligibility, federal subsidies for low income people to help them purchase insurance, and tax credits for small businesses. It is being paid for by a Medicare payroll tax, and excise taxes on manufacturers of certain medical devices (such as tanning beds). The Medicare payroll tax is .9% on income for individuals with income over $200,000 per year, and $250,000 for couples. There are also taxes on investment income that are above certain thresholds. An estimated $437.8 Billion will be raised over 10 years, most people won’t see any direct tax. You will notice a theme of taxing high income earners to fund parts of this law, I wonder why Republicans, who typically have high income donors pumping millions into their re-election campaigns, are committed to repeal this law.
I will have another story on the popular tax lies of this law.
This cuts Medicare:
Isn’t it funny that the same person who makes this claim, says that the government health care system is getting bigger? How can Medicare get bigger if you are saying it is being cut? Medicare is expanded and strengthened under the law.
The objective of Medicare in Obamacare is to slow the increasing costs of the program by reforming how the actual services are provided and by cutting waste. These changes are projected to reduce Medicare spending by $575 Billion over 10 years.
These reforms have already saved 1.2 million Medicare recipients $550 per year.
Obamacare funds abortions:
This is also simply false, and sad that this lie is being spread around. Where does this lie come from? On May 4th 2011 The House of Representatives passed HR3, “No taxpayer funding for abortion act.” It was roll call 292, and passed 251-175. What they don’t tell you is that it has been illegal since 1977 for federal funds to be used for abortion. Look up the Hyde Amendment. When signing Obamacare, President Obama signed an executive order reaffirming the federal rules on federal funds.
Under this law, those receiving any kind of subsidy from the government, must pay for abortions on their own.
Is the law perfect? No. People complain that parts of it are unfair. What I see as unfair is if someone gets sick and can’t pay, then you and I have to pay the bill. What’s unfair is insurance companies having the power to deny or grant coverage based on gender or pre-existing conditions. What’s unfair is 50 million Americans living an unsure life, being one illness away from bankruptcy. After 100 years of debate, we will all finally take responsibility for ourselves, instead of asking our neighbor to do it for us.
While this typical Romney flip flop is funny, here is something from 1936 that is even better. Before you watch this clip remember what Romney said in the 2012 clip about the parts of Obamacare that he likes, insinuating that if we elect him president all of the controversial parts (how it’s paid for) will just go away and we get to keep all of the popular parts: