Friday, March 30, 2012

"Oh Beautiful for Specious Claims"

In 2010, the United States passed, for the first time, a universal health care bill. Known as the Affordable Care Act (aka "individual mandate"), it basically stipulated that everybody in the US was required to have some kind of health insurance, and it reformed the insurance industry so that they couldn't refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions and pull some of the recission crap that they had been, as seen in Sicko. If you were too poor for it, you could get your insurance subsidized. It was, in other words, hardly extraordinary. It did not put the federal government in charge of the hospitals, as in a single-payer system. It left people able to make the decision to go without insurance (an extra tax would have been added to their tax forms) if they so chose. People in the Netherlands might recognize it as the Dutch system, and I'd venture to guess that most of them/us thinks it works quite well. Or at least, it's not terrible, and certainly better than having no system at all.

And for some reason, it's being seen as the worst thing to happen to the US healthcare "system". What there was of one, to begin with. It is now in danger of being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

A bit of a primer on US politics for the internationals: Their are two systems at work in the US, the federal system, and the state system. States have jurisdiction over whatever goes on within their borders, and the federal government has jurisidiction over whatever concerns the nations as a whole (waging war and international trade, that sort of thing). What sounds cut-and-dry has been debated since the nation was conceived 223 years ago, with Gibbons v. Ogden as the first substantive case in which the federal government was granted authority over and above the state governments.

The main gist of the argument against "Obamacare", as the ACA is called, is that the federal government simply doesn't have the authority to mandate that individuals must buy insurance (what is erroneously viewed as a private product), never mind that hurricane insurance is mandatory in areas like Florida. People kvetch and moan about how stupid it is that they, who are perfectly healthy (until they're not) must subsidize the care for the fat, lazy, and diseased. They completely ignore the fact that people with insurance already subsidize the care for those without, in one of the most expensive, unfair ways possible.

But logic makes for a poor argument, at least when the Constitutionality of a matter is at stake. No--far more impressive is to worry about the federal government mandating that you eat broccoli, and death panels denying care to granny (like they already do--in Texas and Arizona, of all states, no less--but apparently if it's a state government doing this it's perfectly okay). Never mind that none of these have any basis in reality, nor are they within the scope of the ACA.

But perhaps most ironic of all, is that the ACA, which essentially puts into law the requirement that you be a good (Christian) person and help out your fellow man, is being attacked by the very same Christians who would require transvaginal ultrasounds for abortions(state-mandated rape) and permission notes for birth control. If it weren't so sad, it'd be funny.

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