GOP Snake Oil, Health Care and the Supremes
Despite a propaganda push, the Affordable Care Act has been upheld. But the war isn't over.
Up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers. And 6.6 million young adults under the age of 26 -- most of whom are unemployed since the Bush-Cheney recession -- have been allowed to stay on their parents' health insurance plans.
Medicare services for senior citizens have also expanded, with 5.3 million seniors saving $3.7 billion on prescription drugs. According to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 220,000 people saved $184.5 million -- an average savings of $837 per senior citizen, a significant amount for elderly people living on limited incomes and increasingly reliant on family members. Prior to reform implementation, seniors faced paying for benefits like cancer screenings and cholesterol checks out of their own pockets.
Working adults also came into the fold. Around 360,000 employers have used the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which assists businesses in providing more than 2 million workers and their families with private coverage.
Public Perceptions, Media Narratives and Real-Life Alternatives
A recent study by the Project of Excellence in Journalism has found that terms used by Republican opponents to describe universal health care were more prevalent in the mainstream press, and thereby dominated public perceptions -- whether merit-based or not. As E.J. Dionne points out in the Washington Post, phrases like "government-run" were far more likely to be used than terms such as "pre-existing conditions."
The inconvenient truth if Obama loses is this: An ill-informed and increasingly uninsured public will need to contend with the repercussions of a Romney presidency and conservative legislature. What happens if health care reform is dismantled?
The widespread lack of health care insurance in U.S. society already costs millions to both the government and privately insured citizens alike, via higher premiums. Of course, the cost to uninsured Americans is either quality of life or life itself.
It seems what Republicans aren't saying is that they're happy for people to die. But Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget says it for them. The plan defunds most of the Obama reform's subsidies and throws America's poor off of Medicaid services, with no viable alternative.
This, of course, disproportionately affects African Americans, Hispanics and poor whites. And Ryan's budget does all this while giving deeper tax cuts to billionaires. In what Twilight Zone is a policy like that given any political legitimacy?
Of course, Romney lauded Ryan's plan. While decrying health care reform and government-financed services to the poor, Mitt and Ann are busy finding ways to invest their $250 million fortune -- or hide it offshore in the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg.
The day of reckoning has come: Affordable health care is no longer a question but, indeed, the answer. President Obama made a humble acknowledgment of this fact in his official statement. "I didn't do this because it's good politics," he said. "I did it because it's good for the country."
In light of the Supreme Court decision, Americans have an even clearer choice come this November. Barack Obama cares. Romney and his GOP colleagues most assuredly do not.
Edward Wyckoff Williams is a contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing regularly on MSNBC, Al Jazeera and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.