So maybe this makes me a ‘centrist’ (a label I abjure because my conception of a ‘centrist’ is someone who can’t make up their damn mind), but I don’t see myself as being particularly partisan. A political party or movement wins my allegiance because I agree with their ideas today, not because I agreed with their other ideas yesterday. The whole phenomenon of “my father voted Republican, his father voted Republican, and right or wrong I’ll vote Republican too” seems equal parts idiotic and insane to me. Of course, voting Republican period seems idiotic and insane to me, so whatever.
This morning I talked about my approach for Canadian health care reform, which is nowhere near as big a political football as it is among our southern cousins. The ideas I put forward, as far as I can tell, don’t belong to any political party. They could be spun as products of either conservative thinking (“it’s time to stop throwing away hard-earned taxpayer money on a bloated bureaucracy that doesn’t deliver for Canadians. Let’s reign in spending by eliminating government waste!”) or liberal thinking (“we must find a fair and equitable way to deliver health care that focuses on providing the right service to the right person at the right time!”). The ideas aren’t good because Bob Rae or Thomas Mulcair thinks they’re good (or because Stephen Harper thinks they’re bad), they’re good because they’re good.
In the same way, I find the fight over the Affordable Care Act in the USA to be patently absurd. Aside from the fact that it is a massively watered-down version of a good law, there’s really not much in there to dislike:
Okay, explained like you’re a five year-old, without oversimplification, and (hopefully) without sounding too biased:
What people call “Obamacare” is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it “Obamacare” before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It’s a term mostly used by people who don’t like the PPACA, and it’s become popularized in part because PPACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.
Anyway, the PPACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn’t have to.
So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):
Seriously – go read the list of legislated changes. There’s next to nothing in there to get upset about. And yet, the plan is wildly unpopular for reasons that beggar understanding. Either Americans are far more susceptible to propaganda than even I suspected, or the idea of having to buy health insurance is so abhorrent to the American psyche that y’all will happily cut off your own noses to spite your faces.
You know who doesn’t hate ‘Obamacare’, and therefore hates free-market capitalism and insurance companies? Insurance companies:
UnitedHealthcare — one of the nation’s largest health insurers — has announced that it will preserve a provision of the health care law that allows young adults to stay on their family health care plans up to age 26, even if the high court rules the law unconstitutional later this month.
The measure is one of several so-called “Patients’ Bill of Rights” included in the law that UnitedHealthcare will keep in place. The company will also continue offering preventive health care services without out-of-pocket costs and end lifetime limits on insurance payouts:
“The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people’s health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to helping control rising health care costs,” Stephen J. Hemsley, president and chief executive of UnitedHealth Group, said in a statement. “These provisions are compatible with our mission and continue our operating practices.” […]
You know why they don’t hate the idea of a larger pool of customers, most of whom won’t need to file a claim any time soon? Of course you do, because you’re not an idiot. Aside from the obvious though, when medical care isn’t a matter of financial ruin, people are more likely to go seek help earlier in the course of their disease (rather than when the pain/discomfort becomes so great that they can’t afford to not see a doctor). Most diseases are easier to manage the sooner you catch them, so this means big savings not only for policy holders, but for the insurance companies as well.
If human beings were indeed the rational creatures that economists pretend they are, this would be a no-brainer. A policy that, for a minimal individual investment, yields results that are better for poor people, rich people, citizens and corporations? Where do I sign up, right? But in the hyper-partisan morass of shouting that is the body politic in the United States*, this is an idea that struggles to get a third of the country to support it. Let’s not mistake ourselves – ‘Obamacare’ isn’t good (or bad) because it’s liberal; it’s good because it’s good.
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*Don’t get me wrong. I blame the Republicans for this. Yes, the Democrats haven’t done a great job of convincing people why it’s a good idea to go down this road; the Republicans have been slashing everyone’s tires and wiping excrement on the steering wheel.