Since Republicans hostile take over of the United States government ended in futility, they have now decided to slander the Affordable Care Act to death.
There has been a massive media assault on the bill attributed to President Barack Obama and derogatorily called “Obamacare.” Part of the reason there has been such an assault on the new legislation is that America has been in need of healthcare reform for decades and while many have taken up the cause, President Obama has been the only one to make any substantial step towards achieving the goal. In short President Obama is creating a legacy beyond just being the first Black person elected to the highest office of America. The right wing may not be able to take his racial identification and the damn sure couldn’t take his second term so now they are attacking the man’s legacy (because far be it that the only Black man to be elected president might actually be qualified, able, and proven to have been worthy of the position. It would sit better for them to write him off in history as an affirmative action case — he got it because we were in need of diversity on the presidential roll call and he slipped in under lower standards).
However, party politics aside, this fight against the Affordable Care Act unveils a much bigger problem for the American public: ignorance. A problem the people have had for years and it has allowed politicians and policy makers to rule unchecked and has led to the collapse of our economy, a recession, gulf of disparity in class differences, and a resurgence of racial tensions.
“Once it’s working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare”
– President Barack Obama
The term Obamacare was coined by the GOP to discredit the legislation and distance it from what it really is: healthcare reform (much needed reform at that). However, President Obama embraced the term in order to steal the sting of the punch the GOP was throwing. President Obama’s main concern was being able to relay to people how he intended to reform healthcare and if that meant using the term that the GOP created and the media was throwing around, then so be it. But the point to recognize in this is that the creation and acceptance of that term has allowed the right wing to do just what they wanted to do: distract the public from the intention of the bill. The bill is very appropriately called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The name is not creative but it gets the point across. This bill is meant to protect the American people from the healthcare institutions that have all but held them hostage for the past few decades. The bill is meant to empower the people and give them some leverage in deciding how to care from themselves. Instead of being beholden to some high price, scrutinizing, forever denying HMOs that specialize in finding reasons to not cover medical expenses to people who give money out of their hard earned paychecks, now the people would have choices and the power to say ‘if you don’t give me the care I need, I will go elsewhere.’
But the attention is placed on President Obama himself. Obamacare makes everyone believe that this is solely President Obama’s legislation (as if he could pass a bill without it going through the House and Senate). By calling it Obamacare, highlighting the flaws of the bill, manufacturing crisis, and using fear tactics to scare some of the American people into believing that this one bill could destroy the country, people are focusing on President Obama and their critique of his tenure as president instead of looking at the legislation and evaluating it on its own merit. I don’t imagine the bill is perfect. I’m certain it has its flaws and kinks to be worked out, but what I know is that we have been promised healthcare reform for a long time and now its finally here. We can definitely critique the bill and challenge it to be better but we can’t do that by refusing to accept it or by thinking that denying the bill is going to make some new and better legislation appear out of nowhere. We gotta start somewhere.
One problem is that most people who oppose The Affordable Care Act do not even know the details of the bill.
As demonstrated by Jimmy Kimmell. Did you see the looks of disgust as they talked about how they hated “Obamacare” and they couldn’t even explain why. This is the kind of damage that is done by the propaganda that Republicans are perpetuating.
According to a poll conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, many Americans want the elements that are in the Affordable Care Act and are not aware of how many healthcare changes, that they favor, are included in this bill.
Tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance: 88% in favor, but only 52% are aware that this is included.
Closing the Medicare drug benefit doughnut hole: 81% in favor, but only 46% are aware that this is included.
Extension of dependent coverage to offspring up to age 26: 76% in favor, 69% are aware that this is included.
Expanding Medicaid: 71% in favor, 59% are aware that this is included.
Ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions: 66% in favor, 53% are aware this is included.
Employer mandate: 57% in favor, 71% are aware this is included.
Extension to the age of 26 for children to be covered by parents’ insurance: 76% in favor, 69% are aware that this is included.
Subsidy assistance to individuals who cannot afford coverage: 76% in favor, 62% are aware that this is included.
Individual mandate penalty: 40% in favor, 74% are aware this is included.
What this data shows is that aside from the 2 or 3 elements that the right wing continues to use to vilify the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are unaware of what is included. And many of the things that we have wanted are included in this law. That is a problem in and of itself.
Fugitives of Justice
What a republicans are not saying in their slandering sound bites is that most of the faults they are finding with The Affordable Care Act are not flaws within the legislation but the egregious acts that are being taken by businesses to avoid complying with the demands of the law. These demands are made because for decades businesses have made no moves towards offering their employees affordable quality healthcare coverage. The law forces them to offer a myriad of options for employees to choose from. Instead these businesses have decided to punish employees by reducing their hours, canceling insurance plans and other measures to avoid adhering to the requirements.
There is a mandate within the legislation that requires a company with more than 50 employees to offer all employees who work at least 30 hours week health coverage.
Stores such as a Forever 21 have told employees that it planned to reduce hours and reclassify some full time workers as part time. Sea World has decided to cap part time hours at 28 hours a week instead of 32. Trader Joe’s and Home Depot have decided to stop offering part time employees medical coverage. A survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans published last month, found that 15% of large employers (50 or more employees) and 20% of smaller employers had plans to adjust hours so that fewer employees qualify for full-time medical insurance under the ACA.
Investors.com released a list of businesses by state that are reacting to the Affordable Care Act by attacking their employees. so while the right wing suggests that President Obama and the Affordable Care Act are responsible for the egregious reduction of fulltime workers in the employment market, the truth is the companies are responsible because they are refusing to be accountable and responsible employers and offer their employees much needed access to healthcare.
“A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved, it is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Americans have become so blissfully ignorant that we do not actually take the time to get the facts and draw our own conclusions before we start taking sides and throwing punches. That is why the controlling powers in this country have gotten to be so strong and threaten the very existence of this republic. If we would take the time to become more informed and not rely on the soundbites and talking heads of pundits who twist the facts to support their own political agenda, we could turn our anger onto the people who deserve it and at least offer our support where it is most needed. We cannot just see the Affordable Care Act as it is…why have to be able to envision what it could be with some tweaks and improvements.
I know we are all busy: we have lives and obligations. And I know that for many in this country day-to-day survival is like having a second full-time job. But this is not the time for ignorance. This is not the time to tire of seeking and acquiring information. The future of our country is in our hands and if we cannot find the time or the passion to give a damn about what’s really going on, well, then if we really want to see who’s responsible we need look no further than the nearest mirror. This is our country. We are all responsible for the way it is and the way it will be.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man