By John Peters
December 15, 2013
In today’s Mount Airy News we join together with several of our Civitas Media sister publications to take a look at the Affordable Care Act — colloquially known as Obamacare — not in a manner to make any judgment on the new law, but simply to give readers a look at how the average person and business is coping with the new regulations.
One thing we believe is that the implementation of the Act has been, overall, a colossal mess. And we lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of the Obama administration. This close to the deadline for Americans to sign up for the plan, we should not see so many problems with the healthcare.gov website, or have so many questions about what the Act will and won’t do.
Part of the problem is because opponents of the law have filled the airwaves, mail boxes, and newspapers with blatant disinformation. Still, the Obama administration should have done a better job on many levels.
The Act itself is flawed, too, though we put much of that blame in the hands of Congress, with most — but not all — of the problems there resting with the GOP.
The impetus behind the Act, however, we still consider laudable and worthy of support. That goal was a simple desire to extend affordable, quality health care to all Americans. While President Obama has taken up this cause as a hallmark of his presidency, he is far from the first to do so.
Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton all espoused support for a national health care policy before Obama used the Oval Office to attempt to extend universal health care to all Americans.
Obama’s efforts were nearly derailed, though, because certain special interest groups — mainly the health care insurance industry and for-profit health care providers — demanded their Congressional representatives oppose any move that might take the profit out of health care. Since those industries give liberally to candidates for the right to tell those Congressman how they will vote on such issues, Congressmen and women towed the line for these industries.
So we end up with the ACA, a convoluted piece of legislation that attempts to expand health care coverage in America while preserving the profit margins of insurance companies and for-profit hospitals.
Eventually the Act will be repealed (or crumble), or it will be expanded to eventually cover virtually all Americans, maybe even one day amended to become a true, universal single-payer health care system.
And that brings us to the real question in play here — in the end, the question is should health care be elevated to the level of a basic need, on par with food, shelter and clothing, or should it be left in the arena of the business world, a product only available to those with money or influence?
Virtually every developed nation on earth, and even some not-so-developed nations, have opted for the former, and now provide good, affordable health care to their citizens.
That brings us to the question of what should the United States do?
We believe elevating health care to the level of a basic need, and then providing for that need, is the right and correct thing to do.
There is something fundamentally wrong with a society when an athlete playing a game on Sunday afternoon can fall to the ground with a twisted knee, and instantly he is surrounded by high-priced specialists and physicians while there is a man in Ashe County who has gone bankrupt trying to pay for medical care in his fight against cancer.
We believe a system is horribly flawed when the top surgeons in the world work on that athlete’s knee so he can one day play a game again, while a man in Virginia dies because he needs a heart transplant and no doctor will give him the time of day because he has no health insurance to pay for the procedure.
We thing it is wrong for that athlete to have the absolute best healthcare and the most advanced medical technology at his disposal, at no cost to him, for a year or more while he is recovering from the injury, while a 12-year-old boy in Maryland dies from a toothache because no dentist would see him unless his family could pay $80 to have the tooth pulled.
That is the state of our health care system today. We ration health care to those with money and means, and we toss others aside without any concern for their health, well-being, or even their lives.
That is wrong, and we hope our national leaders will one day, soon, realize health care should be extended to every American without regard to the opinions of insurance companies leeching money from the system.