Obamacare vs. Affordable Care

Make no mistake, Americans absolutely loathe “Obamacare”. Just look at the polls. By an average of nearly 50 percent, and by up to 56 percent in some polls, those surveyed oppose it and want to see it repealed. In virtually every poll, the numbers opposing exceed the numbers supporting. You really have to wonder how the prez ever marshaled enough backing to get the thing passed in the first place. Well… it could be because most Americans are in favor of his healthcare reform.

Huh? How could they be both for it and against it?

For one thing, we should note that, implicit in the Obama Haters’ trumpeting of these poll numbers is the assumption that the disapproval stems from a single cause: i.e., the perception that “Obamacare” is “too radical”.  This ignores other possible grounds for objecting — for example,  that a significant percentage oppose the bill for “not going far enough” or “not being liberal enough”, or some such. Quite the opposite of being “too radical”, if I’m accurately untangling the meanings of these terms from the contemporary semantic thicket.

We also need to note that word Obamacare, which as you hopefully are aware, is not the actual name of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It’s the derogatory label pushed by the sufferers of Obama Derangement Syndrome (frequently characterized by an inability to distinguish Hawaii from Kenya), a label designed by those who want to give the impression that one person has assumed control of the nation’s healthcare system, and who also circulate nutball rumors about “socialized medicine”, and “death panels“.

The latest, straight from the “Are You Fucking Serious?” department, is that the bill “suppresses religious freedom” by regarding contraception as a vital service. For this one we primarily can thank the Catholic Church, which evidently regards birth control as far more morally reprehensible than molesting children. Outraged over the administration’s efforts to give women special treatment, church officials have taken legal action to demand special treatment. “We didn’t start this fight”, they declare, as they draw a line and spit over it.

To hear them tell it, Washington is dispatching its jack-booted thugs to smash in their doors and (shudder) drag them kicking and screaming into the Twenty-First Century. They seem to be overlooking the fact that granting them an exemption from the contraceptive provision could itself be construed as an infringement on religious freedom by offering one religious sector preferential treatment. (We must also note however, that indeed certain religious institutions are exempt from the contraception mandate.) They also seem to be overlooking the fact that nobody is holding a gun to their heads and forcing them to be involved in the medical profession to begin with.

One certainly can debate whether the government should have a dog in this fight at all. Hell, while we’re at it, we can debate whether government should be involved in regulating traffic safety, or should just leave motorists, in Libertarian fashion, to “sort it out for themselves”. But at the moment, the government is taking a stand in a field that is a matter of life and death, and is (for the most part) holding providers of service to the same standards whether they’re administered by religious organizations or not. Religious discrimination? Gimme a break, already.

Yet that is exactly what we keep hearing repeatedly. Even the GOP contender for Obama’s job assailed the contraception requirement as a “direct attack on religious liberty”. Sigh. How quickly we forget when we have self-righteousness to exude. Not only did this politician, as governor of Massachusetts, sign a healthcare reform bill that was the prototype for “Obamacare”, he also signed a contraceptive bill very similar to the one he’s excoriating as an evil “attack on religious liberty”.

In any case, given that it’s virtually impossible to find a discussion of PPACA that does not call it Obamacare and/or does not regurgitate rightwingnutball soundbites, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that the polls have been so negative. Funny thing, though. On those occasions when the pollsters and the (“liberal”) media temporarily forget about “death panels” and “socialized medicine” and “religious liberty” and just ask people about…um, what the bill actually does, they get a markedly different response.

The provision to prohibit denial due to preexisting conditions? That has an approval rating of at least 70 percent. Tax credits for small businesses? Ditto. Limiting insurance companies’ profit margins? About 56 percent. Research to confirm effectiveness of treatments? About 53 percent. (Oh, and those Catholics who supposedly are so up in arms about the contraception thing? Turns out the vast majority of them couldn’t care less.) It seems the more people actually know about “Obamacare”, the more they like it. Which just might have something to do with why the propagandists do everything in their power to make certain the public does not learn anything about it by burying it beneath an avalanche of nutball rumors.

They’ve said that it amounts to a “government takeover” of medicine. They’ve said that it will increase the deficit. They’ve said that it’s the largest tax hike in history. They’ve said that it will provide free benefits to illegal aliens. They’ve said that it will reduce Medicare benefits. They’ve said it will result in forced vaccinations. They’ve said it won’t take effect until 2014. They’ve said it hurts small businesses. They’ve said it will kill jobs. They’ve said it will result in healthcare rationing. They’ve said it won’t reduce the cost of health insurance. They’ve said it will mandate federal funds for abortion.

False, false, false, false, false, false, false, false, false, false, false and false.

But my favorite has to be that the bill just has too dang many words in it.  It”s way too lengthy and abstruse for anyone to follow, they claim. Sure, it’s longer than the average bill, but hardly of unprecedented length. At 1018 pages, it’s hardly excessive given the amount of material covered, and it’s about 400 pages shorter, for example, than the 2007 Bush budget. Nor is its language particularly complicated. But Sarah Palin, who always comes through when you need a punchline, put it this way:

Obamacare was dealt in deception and confusion by flooding the public with an overwhelming amount of conflicting “rationale” via thousands of pages of unread legislative detail, which is the radical left’s M.O.

Gasp! Just imagine all of that “unread” detail. What will those socialists inflict on us next? Uncalculated arithmetic? She seems to be echoing the misconception that nobody in Washington read the bill before passing it; but judging by (all of) her comments on the matter, she’s never read a word of it herself.

The one aspect of the new law that Americans do seem to oppose pretty consistently is the mandatory insurance requirement. Hardly surprising, since they’ve been told repeatedly that it’s unconstitutional. Which is going to be a tougher sell now that the Supreme Court (despite being solidly stacked with ideologues) has ruled otherwise. Not to worry, though, there are plenty of other lies and myths to go around. You’ve probably heard that if you don’t purchase insurance, you will be heavily fined, and your assets will be seized, and you’ll be shipped off to a FEMA concentration camp. In fact, the bill specifically prohibits criminal penalties for noncompliance (page 336 — couldn’t you at least make it that far, Sarah?), and the tax penalties will affect only about ONE percent of the population, who will pay a MAXIMUM of ONE percent of their income.

Given the media trend to view “Obamacare” through the psychedelic lenses of malicious rumors spread by people with names like Sarah or Glenn, and given the tendency of the American public to assess such measures by how they fit the Procrustean bed of a prefabricated ideology (notably the die-cast conviction, facts be damned, that government intervention invariably “makes things worse”), the amount of support PPACA has managed to gain is nothing short of miraculous. Particularly since some of its features are just beginning to go into effect. (Despite this, I’ve already known people whose lives and/or nest eggs have been spared by “Obamacare”. But hey,  so what when you have an ideology to promote and a president to hate.)

You often hear left-wingers complain that right-wingers are adept at convincing people to “vote against their own interests”. This Jekyll and Hyde relationship between Obamacare and Affordable Care is an excellent illustration of just how valid that point might be.

(NOTE ADDED 7-11-12: Somehow I neglected to include one of the most notorious lies of all: that “Obamacare” calls for the addition of 16,500 new IRS agents to ensure its enforcement. According to some sources — notably Ron Paul — they’ll all be “armed”. Wow.)

(7-13-12: Oh yes, and there’s the one about it causing most doctors to quit.)

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