I envy the opponents of health care reform
by Daniel Gaddy
Mar 29, 2012 | 649 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Daniel Gaddy
Daniel Gaddy
Most pundits are betting that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the individual mandate for health insurance called for in the Affordable Care Act.

If you’re not familiar with it, this provision creates a tax penalty for citizens who do not purchase health insurance. The mandate is the beating heart of what Republicans call Obamacare, because it’s the primary means by which the legislation will offset costs.

If the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the rest of the law will be an easy target for the GOP.

If the provision is overturned, I wonder how far Republicans will go in attacking the rest of the legislation. Will they nix the parts of the law that did away with pre-existing condition exemptions — even the ones concerning children? Will they allow insurance companies to reinstate dollar limits on coverage? Will they end the provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26? All the conservative political leaders I’ve seen are calling for a repeal of the entire act.

Right-wingers have talked incessantly about the negatives of health care reform legislation. The only thing they’ve been silent about is how to fix the growing mass of problems in this country’s health care system.

I look forward to seeing ANY idea they might have. But I fear pundits on the right will reach back to their old standby, saying our healthcare system is the envy of the world.

I envy people who can believe that. They can hear that 45,000 people die every year — not because of some epidemic — but because they cannot afford proper health insurance; some people can listen to that figure, shake their heads and simply call into doubt the source of the research (for the record, the number comes from a 2009 study from those socialists at Harvard’s School of Medicine).

What a fantastic mental state they must live in to believe that the money this country spends on its healthcare — 16 percent of every good and service produced in this nation — is ever wasted. No, well spent are the billions of dollars hospitals burn through just trying to track down a paper trail that may or may not lead to reimbursement.

And $20 for a capsule of Tylenol? Sure, that makes sense.

How personally convicted some must be not to question their assumptions when they hear half of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to medical bills (again, for the record, cited from that commie rag the American Journal of Medicine).

There was a time when I would be distraught by the news coming from the Supreme Court. Two years ago, in the Hope and Change days, I would have been ready for an all-out brawl to keep the legislation in place.

I would have screamed about how the individual mandate was a GOP idea. And not just on the state level. No, countless Republicans called for a nationwide individual mandate in 1994 to tamp down talk of a single-payer option. A handful of politicians who were calling for it back then are now saying it is an attack on liberty.

Two years ago, I would have told everyone who would listen about Chief Justice John Roberts consistently ruling in favor of corporate interests in case after case. Or Justice Clarence Thomas’ need to recuse himself from the debate because his wife worked for a tea party group protesting the Affordable Care Act.

But two years ago I had the slightest hint of faith in our legislative system. Now, I’ve come to expect a candidate to make grandiose claims, then water the actual bill down to almost nothing to appease fanatics and then presume that most of America will be grateful for crumbs while health insurance and pharmaceutical companies feast on government handouts.

I’ve also come to expect the American people to viciously split over some petty, hot-button issue while historic policy changes go unnoticed.

I take it back, the people I envy the most are the ones who believe in our current political process.

Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle and a Walker County native. He can be reached at daniel.gaddy@mountaineagle.com