Saturday, June 30, 2012


Is the Obama Administration's health care reform package the end of American freedom and the beginning of broccoli-chewing fascism, or a monumental breakthrough in the centuries-long struggle of ordinary citizens yearning for full participation in society and government finally returning to 'promoting the general welfare'?  Well, it may be neither, but it is a rare instance of the average Joe and Joanna stranded at the garage or busstop debating a US Supreme Court decision and how it impacts the most regular working-class folks.  Is that good?  I'm biased towards 'yes,' you know, because it ought to be good when the hogs look up from the slop, right?  'Course, most of these debates, it seems, are happening 'totally unencumbered' by anything resembling facts.  And there are ways to check facts these days.

Anybody who says you can ever get totally away from ideology is a bigger sucker than I am.  But anybody who just keeps spewing without at least checking the impact on the little guy is worse - aiding and abetting the systematic screwing thereof.  So ...

Clearly these reforms will help a lot of people.  But just as clearly this Spectre haunting America leaves a great deal to be desired.  Essentially a package of liberal reforms, not a single national plan that covers everybody, the law bars health insurance companies from canceling out your butt when you get sick, requires the evil insurance companies to accept your kids even with a preexisting condition, places some controls on rates they charge, allows kids up to 26 to remain on their parents insurance, and so on.

One of the most important reforms for seniors involves the 'donut hole' created by the Bush Administration's Part D prescription law that required old folks on Medicare to purchase a prescription plan with a major gap in it, i.e. they'd get coverage up to a certain amount, then they had to keep paying without any coverage until they spent a certain amount and then coverage would kick back in. That's the pot old folks have been stewing in since 2003. Obamacare phases the donut hole out over a several years.  And, considering the big drug slam faced by the aging, this has to count.

The part that's been in the news the most, though, is the 'mandate.' By a date certain most people not already insured to a specified level have to buy insurance that meets certain criteria. This is where unions and advocacy groups fought for a 'public option' for folks who couldn't afford insurance - so they could get a kind of need-based public insurance at least. What we got instead was a expansion of Medicaid, but it's voluntary for the states. The feds will pay, but some Republikkkan governors will probably turn down the cash. (Some Dems, too, apparently make crackpot moves like this.)  The effect will be, a bunch of folks won't be able to afford coverage but also won't be able to access Medicaid in those states.  But is this really Obamacare's fault?  Or isn't just the pro-rich playing 'human-shield' with poor folks again?

Yeah, 'Obamacare' should be better.  I agree.  So let's fix it.  The all-or-nothing notion that in order to get to single-payer (or "Medicare for all") we needed to ax this problematic 'halfway house' is recycled gibberish. Worse, it's inhumane.

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