Reprehensible

December 17, 2013 

We're slowly approaching the end of a journey filled with intrigue and treachery, morality and ethical challenges, deception and dishonesty, and tactics worthy of the 2013 chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand. The final chapter has not been written, but recent chapters hint at a favorable outcome scoring a significant victory for the powerless over the powerful.

The tale of the Affordable Care Act reads like a Dickinson novel. How does this story unfold? The scene opens with rampant injustices where millions have no health care resulting in 45,000 deaths a year — maybe this would have a greater impact if we say 45,000 jump out of the 9/11 towers every year. Those with insurance faced annual double-digit premium increases.

Those making significant insurance claims are subsequently dropped or their premiums are raised to levels they can't afford. Many found themselves not covered as insurance companies find ingenious methods to deny their claims. Families are bankrupted by health care bills. Fortunately, there are no debtor's prisons as in mid-19th century England, but the virtual debtor prison is just as real. Being bankrupted could trigger a chain of events leaving families homeless, jobless, broken, hungry and eventually wards of the state.

Everyone acknowledges the state of healthcare in the U.S. was unsustainable. It was not only bankrupting individuals and families, but was also bankrupting America. In the early 90's, Hillary Clinton proposed a solution. Republicans pilloried her and vehemently opposed it. Then, unlike today, they actually presented an alternative designed by the Heritage Foundation. A key element to that Republican-favored idea was the Republican-proposed individual mandate which today Republicans challenged in the Supreme Court. What hypocrisy.

In this morality play, who are these Money Changers who put profit over the lives of people? Who are these people who cleverly prey on the weak under the guise of protecting them? We only need to look at those behind all the efforts to subvert the very same program they supported in the 1990's.

Hundreds of millions approaching $1 billion have been spent on misinformation, lies, and distortions. The health insurance industry has spent over $100 million in health reform ads through the Chamber of Commerce.

Industry groups spent $235 million in ads against health reform. In this mix are Florida Gov. Rick Scott's Conservatives for Patient's rights, the Koch's Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, Family Research Council, Republican National Committee, Employment Policy Institute, and Patients United. This is but a smattering of a dizzying array of organizations run by the Money Changers.

The Republican House attempted to repeal the ACA more than 40 times. It didn't work. They declared the individual mandate which they originally created unconstitutional and brought it to the Supreme Court and lost. In an attempt to defund the ACA, they shut down the government over the debt ceiling for 16 days costing $24 billion in lost productivity, 120,000 in lost private-sector jobs, 6.6 million lost workdays, and $2 billion in back pay.

This comes at a time when they were railing about debt and job creation. The tactic backfired and they backed down by kicking the debt-ceiling can down the road until February 2014. Republican governors refused implementation of State exchanges in hopes of sabotaging the program. They even refused the Medicare expansion, which would have given their uninsured healthcare at no expense to their state.

This would also significantly reduce their budget deficits because they no longer have to pay their 47% share of Medicaid. What principle is involved in denying free healthcare to people while incurring more debt (don't forget the 45,000 annual deaths)?

Besides the speculum-wielding grotesque imagery of Uncle Sam performing a gynecological exam and similar ads, what else can be done to undermine Obamacare? Well, there is glitch-gate. Kangaroo Congressional oversight hearings were held to convince Americans that technical problems were representative of the ACA's viability. Fortunately, the healthcare.gov website fix can now support 50,000 simultaneous users and 800,000 visits per day. Darn, what now?

Not only is the federal website capable of supporting 36 states, which chose not to have a State exchange, but those with State exchanges are experiencing successes beyond expectations. California is one of those states. In desperation, California Republicans set up a fake health care website, coveringhealthcareca.com, to look like the official website, coveredca.gov, to steer people away from it and persuade them not to enroll.

If that isn't enough, they used taxpayer money to do it — reprehensible.

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