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Froma Harrop
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 28 March 2012
“Obamacare is head and shoulders above what we have today.”

Whether Obamacare Wins or Loses, Obama Wins

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Small wonder President Obama chose not to delay the U.S. Supreme Court case on his health care reforms until long after the election. His advisors are clearly in the lab transforming the president's signature legislation into a potent election issue — whether the justices leave it intact or rip it apart.

For starters, ignore the new CBS News poll showing that 47 percent of Americans give the Affordable Care Act a thumb down, while only 36 percent approve.  Older surveys suggest that many of the unhappy respondents actually wanted a larger role for government in health care (the public option, for example), not the smaller one conservatives demand.  The bottom-line question for discontented liberals is, do they want a flawed federal health care plan or no plan?  They can want the reform to happen without loving the final product.

Obamacare is head and shoulders above what we have today.  That is the worst of most worlds — growing health care insecurity paired with soaring health care costs.  The better course for reform would have been folding everyone into Medicare.  Under the health care plan for the elderly, government picks up most of the hospital bills, and enrollees may buy subsidized private coverage for doctor visits and such.  It's simple and cheap to administer.  Oh, but let's not go over this burnt ground again.

The key issue before the Supreme Court is whether the federal government can force the uninsured to buy health coverage.  Those seeking to strike down the law see it as an abuse of federal power.  Its backers counter that the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause says otherwise.

This much is obvious: If the individual mandate gets nixed, then the part of the law requiring insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions goes with it.  Americans will continue facing the terror of having a very sick family member and no medical coverage.

And when an uninsured person shows up at the emergency room with a concussion, the people being coerced into buying his care will be the taxpayers and those with private coverage.

Of course, everyone has to have insurance for these reforms to work.  You can't make private insurers cover the ill without ordering the young and hearty into the insurance pool.

Let us repair to the campaign trail.  If the Republican candidate is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, then the controversy over Obamacare will be largely neutralized.  After all, Romney (to his credit) established a very similar universal coverage system in Massachusetts, individual mandate, and all.  Obama adviser David Plouffe unfurled this counterattack on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying, "Mitt Romney is the godfather of our health care plan."

Actually, Obamacare is more conservative than Romneycare because it includes mechanisms aimed at curbing the spiraling costs of health care.  This is a conservatism that looks out for taxpayers and employers burdened by our wildly expensive and irrational health care system — as opposed to pleasing campaign donors in the industrial-health-care complex.

Dear pollsters: Consider doing an Obamacare survey that measures something meaningful from a policy standpoint.  In addition to the usual questions, give everyone you call a brief five-question quiz on what's actually in the Affordable Care Act.  Then do a breakdown showing what those who got three of five questions right think about it.

Point is, Obama must educate the public on the virtues of the law, something he did a lousy job of during the legislative battle.  Helping more Americans correctly answer three of those questions would do wonders for his poll numbers.

If the Supreme Court does serious damage to the law, Obama should be prepared with a politically appealing response.  No doubt he's already polishing the arguments.

Copyright Creators.com


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ABOUT Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, Denver Post and Newsday. The twice-a-week column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, in Los Angeles. Harrop has written for numerous other publications, ranging from The New York Times and Institutional Investor, to Harper’s Bazaar and Metropolitan Home. Previously, she covered business for Reuters Ltd., in New York, and was a financial editor for The New York Times News Service. A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary, Harrop was also honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Over the years, the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has named her for five awards.

Under the Health Care Act,

Under the Health Care Act, insurance cieapnoms must cover children with pre-existing conditions. I read today that some of these insurance cieapnoms have committed a despicable act but putting their profits way ahead of childrens care. They had refused to cover seriously ill children before but they have gone beyond the pale by by cutting off childrens policies completely.I dont think Obama and those who wrote the bill expected that to happen. They negotiated with the insurance executives several times in good faith and caved in to Republicans not to have a public option with the guarantees the insurance cieapnoms would cover kids with medical conditions.I understand that United, Cigna, Aetna are refusing to write policies. Dont blame Pres. Obama. He tried to force insurance cieapnoms to cover sick children.It is just terrible. If I had insurance with those cieapnoms I would cancel it.ALMACIGA: If you already have children covered by Blue Cross they probably wont drop them but you cannot get a new policy if the kids have pre-existing conditions. Blue Cross is Anthem.Parents wont let their seriously ill kids go without insurance because they can get sick at any time and there are waiting periods for care so no parent would take that kind of risk.

The US problem is far bigger

The US problem is far bigger than ObamaCare. You are in a constant election campaign mode. Every policy, whether foreign or domestic is judged not by it's merits but how it will affect the next election. You have roughly the same number of Democrats and Republicans. Your elections are decided by uncommitted fencesitters whose priorities shift with the wind. As it stands now 41 senators can decide the fate of your nation. The system your illustrious forebearers designed doesn't work. You don't need a President. the leader of the party that wins the most seats in congress would be the prime minister (or whatever you choose to call him). A president with an opposition congress just doesn't work. If the democrats had the balls they could run on a universal single payer government health plan. In Canada we are all supposed to be enrolled in a provincial health plan. In British Columbia if you earn less than 20.00 a year your healthcare is free. The payments for those earning more is staggered according to your earnings. Everybody gets in and no one goes bankrupt because of medical expenses. The party that got us healthcare wasn't even in power, they exerted pressure on the right and centre parties to get affordable care for Canadians. With your current setup i'm afraid you are doomed to live or die on the whims of private insurance companies, their lobbyists and their bought and paid for congressmen and senators. good night America.

The US problem is far bigger

The US problem is far bigger than ObamaCare. You are in a constant election campaign mode. Every policy, whether foreign or domestic is judged not by it's merits but how it will affect the next election. You have roughly the same number of Democrats and Republicans. Your elections are decided by uncommitted fencesitters whose priorities shift with the wind. As it stands now 41 senators can decide the fate of your nation. The system your illustrious forebearers designed doesn't work. You don't need a President. the leader of the party that wins the most seats in congress would be the prime minister (or whatever you choose to call him). A president with an opposition congress just doesn't work. If the democrats had the balls they could run on a universal single payer government health plan. In Canada we are all supposed to be enrolled in a provincial health plan. In British Columbia if you earn less than 20.00 a year your healthcare is free. The payments for those earning more is staggered according to your earnings. Everybody gets in and no one goes bankrupt because of medical expenses. The party that got us healthcare wasn't even in power, they exerted pressure on the right and centre parties to get affordable care for Canadians. With your current setup i'm afraid you are doomed to live or die on the whims of private insurance companies, their lobbyists and their bought and paid for congressmen and senators. good night America.

I'm an ardent Democrat and

I'm an ardent Democrat and supporter of most of the Obamacare requirements, but I too am hoping that the court strikes down the mandate. Despite the cut-outs for low income people, it will still force the poor to spend a much greater percentage of their income for health care insurance than the rich do.

It's one thing to require participation in a government program (like Social Security), but it's entirely different to make people buy something from a private company. What happens when all of the insurance companies merge? Will the government force us to buy from the Microsoft or Bank of America of the health care industry? At whatever they want to charge? Monopoly regulation has fallen by the wayside in the last 10 years.

This will be an opportunity for Congress to extend Medicare to all. It's ridiculous to think that for-profit companies can provide coverage cheaper than a government run program. If the private sector wants to stay in the game, they can sell policies for "premium" care programs.

Its basic finances. For the

Its basic finances. For the health insurance industry to be on board the ACA demand that they accept all without regard to pre-existing conditions (which insurance companies will have to pay plenty) they demanded that all must purchase insurance (including the healthy to balance out the payments made for the sick). If the mandate to buy insuirance is struck down, does anyone believe then that insurance companies will take everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions?

Also Alicia, if the the ACA is gutted, the argument for single payer becomes stronger, but no means certain. Single payer has its own problems, as Canada is struggling with. And the ACA passed (barely) where single payer had no prayer of political passage.

If the Supremes forego all kinds of precedent under the Commerce clause of the Constiution (which could have all kinds of bad repercussions apart from health care and the ACA) and strike down the insurance mandate, then even more people will die or become bankrupt or become disabled because of our broken health care financial system. Let's not ignore these consequences as well.

The only problem Canada has

The only problem Canada has with our healthcare system is the same as with, say, one's local School Board: not everyone has school kids or health problems when they go to the polls, and the real power players go private in either case. Canadians are, in general, extremely proud of our healthcare system and expect nothing but top-notch care, so I'm not sure what you mean by problems unique to single-payer, other than premiums being set too high for lower-income folks.

Not to mention, I'm not

Not to mention, I'm not really in a rush to get an RFID chip shoved into me cause health insurance is now mandatory and I'll get fined every day if I choose not to be tagged like an animal http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-rfid-chip-healthcare-cards-for-...

Hey Harrys, You believe that

Hey Harrys, You believe that RFID crap? There's a bridge I'd like to sell you....

http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/microchip.asp

A medicare for all system

A medicare for all system (mandatory) would solve many of the problems.

Then we could focus on eliminating institutionalized fraud by the for-profit health care services providers (Rick Scott).

We could have better health care for half the price but first we have to get around the stupid Republicans and their Democratic allies.

You really bring the stupid

You really bring the stupid don't you?

I hope Obama staff is

I hope Obama staff is crafting the response you suggest...but why would we think they are, when they've done such a lousy job of selling ACA since (and before) it was enacted?!

Dear friends,We are dealing

Dear friends,We are dealing with human cattle, not intelligent thinkers and voters. Second, those poor animals will be fleeced by our beloved corporate managers. At this moment in history, I vote for a little government meddling to at least keep us from destroying this nation.

Please clarify the below

Please clarify the below statement. What is the link between the two?

"This much is obvious: If the individual mandate gets nixed, then the part of the law requiring insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions goes with it."

You have to have more healthy

You have to have more healthy people in the equation then sick ones, other wise it is a negative equation. Without more money coming in then is going out, the insurance companies would not have the funds with which to pay the bills, neither the patients medical bills nor their operating costs like salary for employees, utilities, rent, etc. So if everyone is participating, then there is enough money in the equation to pay the bills. Additionally, if everyone is in the equation, we all stand to have smaller premiums due to the additional money in the equation caused by additional participants...

As Dr. Margaret Flowers puts

As Dr. Margaret Flowers puts it: "It's very simple - Is private insurance the problem or the solution? If you don't believe it's the solution, then why force people to purchase it? Why are people afraid to speak the truth that the ACA further entrenches the insurance industry? Why are people afraid to demand what they really want - single payer? If we are not willing to demand single payer, we won't get single payer. It's that simple."

This is a silly strawman

This is a silly strawman argument: Obamacare or nothing. And, no, Obamacare is not a step in the right direction.

The only plan should be Single Payer (Medicare for all and a government savings to boot!). Obamacare will destroy any dialogue toward Single Payer (Note: single payer is NOT the "Public Option", which is another false start) for another generation.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3667969743997&set=a.1256145209891...

I'm starting to see your

I'm starting to see your point.

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