Yesterday a report came out that showed the Affordable Care Act is saving millions for Florida seniors, and they're happy with the new law when they see the results and the benefits actually play out.
That's common for those who are facing health problems and working with their insurance companies. It makes perfect sense. Throughout the entire health care reform process, and even now, Americans are fed a steady stream of Republican anti-reform talking points. Republicans who benefit from big contributions from the health care industry want to protect big profits for those same companies, so they come up with catchy terms like "death panels" and "ObamaCare" to scare people while telling you that the President's ACA must be repealed for any number of nonsensical reasons.
Not included in those reasons of course is the real one: Health Insurance means big business and huge profits that feed the Washington revolving door. That translates to millions of Americans who can't afford health care because of the staggering costs. The Republicans want to repeal the ACA, and those in states like Florida are throwing up roadblocks along the way because they know what reports like that show: Once people see the real benefits, they like the health care law.
If you've watched any of the Republican debates, you know that killing the ACA is a big rallying cry, and their base seems to relish in it. Note early on, when Ron Paul got a hypothetical question about a man in his thirties who has no health insurance but faces an illness. Paul said that choosing to have health insurance, or not, was "what freedom is all about." When the moderator followed up his response by asking: "But congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?" the audience beat Paul to an answer by cheering, laughing, and shouting "Yeah!" Hypothetically they cheered the potential death of an adult, but in reality, those cheers include children as well.
You could parse this reaction several ways. That these are simply Paul fans who value "freedom" at any cost, that they have indeed fallen for the GOP scare tactics, or they're simply people who could care less if someone lives or dies and have the "I've got mine, so screw you" mentality.
Regardless of the reason for the reaction, this is today's GOP. No health insurance? Tough. Or as former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson put it in a floor speech in 2010:
“The Republican health care plan: don’t get sick,” he said. But, he added,”The Republicans have a back up plan in case you do get sick … This is what the Republicans want you to do. If you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly!”
Grayson was harshly criticized for his comments, but ask yourself, isn't this exactly what Republicans are striving for? Again, all the Republican candidates for President, not to mention all Republicans currently in Washington have vowed in one way or another to kill or weaken the ACA. Rep. Grayson hit the nail on the head, or perhaps the coffin: If you get sick but have no insurance, too bad.
Unless you're someone who has faced a major illness without insurance, or someone who pays around say $1,000 a month (not a hypothetical) for health insurance that covers little of your medical bills, Republicans have largely been able to convince many Americans that the ACA is almost as bad for them as the socialist, communist, Kenyan (fill in the blank with any ridiculous GOP label) President in the White House. But as the report I cited above shows, when you see true benefits as a result of the new law, you see the Republicans for what they are: Shills for the insurance companies. Your life meas little to them.
The ACA is facing an upcoming battle in the U.S. Supreme Court which gave us Citizens United, allowing mountains of cash from undisclosed sources that will make it easier for the Republicans to fight against President Obama and Democrats in the next election. Some of those justices who'll be making decisions in the challenge to the ACA are those who ruled in favor of Citizens United. They're also justices who attend fundraisers and speaking engagements with the very lobbyists and groups like the Koch brothers who are fighting against ACA in lockstep with the Republicans. One of those is Justice Clarence Thomas whose wife Ginni has actually earned a nice income by working towards the defeat of health care reform, yet Thomas has no plans to recuse himself from the case.
All these desperate attempts by Republicans show what many who supported health care reform during the battle thought would result: Republicans would begin to lose their message war. It would seem they already are. The proof is in parts of the ACA that are already helping many who would have been out of luck had it not passed. There are real people with names and faces, not hypothetical red meat for debate fodder.
Take the words of a woman named Spike Dolomite Ward who wrote an Op-Ed last week in the Los Angeles Times. She was one of those Democrats who were disillusioned by the Obama health care battle and was angry enough at the President to change her party registration to Independent. She didn't understand the details of "ObamaCare" until she found herself uninsured, and diagnosed with stage three breast cancer just weeks ago. That was when she was saved by the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, part of Obama's ACA. You can read the entire Op-Ed piece here, and I would encourage you to do so.
It's a real life example of how the ACA is saving lives NOW.
Who among us hasn't either faced an illness like cancer ourselves, have family members or friends who have? How many of those are lucky enough to have insurance that covers it? How many have none at all and could lose their battle (or already have) simply because insurance company profits and scoring political points for power are more important to Republicans in Washington who are fighting against them every step of the way? How many could be saved like Spike Dolomite Ward? Aren't her life and others worth saving? Should Americans have to settle for the likes of those who would cheer over letting an uninsured person die?
Show me a person who does, and I'll show you a person who never had to face what those they condemn are facing.
The Affordable Care Act may not be the best it might have been had it not been for the mountains of opposition from the health care industry and the politicians who did their bidding, but it's one heck of a good start and it'll be improved on in the future. In spite of all that, it's saving lives now.
That's why we have to keep fighting and support the law going forward, because this shouldn't be a fight about politics.
This is a fight for our lives.