From its inception in early 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been met with stunning amounts of vitriol from the Republican right. This is strange considering the fact that the GOP had essentially crafted the law over the past 20 years. It’s even stranger that the Republican Party would hate the ACA even though the law’s implementation and mechanics offer them a clear win-win against their Democratic Party opponents.
And how does the healthcare act do this? Simply put, the Affordable Care Act has been a lose-lose situation for almost everyone who either supported or championed it — from President Barack Obama to his fellow Democrats in Congress — since it was signed into law in March 2010.
After all, the GOP is getting exactly what it wants out of the Affordable Care Act. The individual mandate will almost certainly guarantee that no one will go without insurance, and the fight to prevent the expansion of Medicaid means that more and more people will sign up for whatever insurance they can get, and, make no mistake, these are not public insurance plans. They are private plans from private insurers, and these businesses stand to do well from having a new customer base of around 45 million people. So, it’s a win for the insurance industry and a win for Republicans.
Then there’s the fact that Medicaid won’t be expanded in many states, thereby insuring that the Affordable Care Act will be crippled. And who’s fault is that? Why, the government’s, of course, and no one should trust the government to do anything for us, even if we wanted them to. Instead, let’s trust private insurers who have made a long career out of gouging every single person who pays for insurance — or, as I like to call it, paying the ransom. Score one for the insurance industry, the GOP, and the anti-government crowd.
Speaking of the anti-government mob, they also win out because Healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s website, has been such a spectacular failure, once again proving that the federal government is incapable of doing anything right. Of course, it’s best if we ignore the talking heads on TV who oversimplify the website’s woes by comparing its construction to the creation of a simple WordPress site or a Tumblr blog. Pro-tip: It’s neither.
And then there’s the fact that the entire operation was outsourced to private contractors — you know, because the government cannot be trusted to do its own work. For the Republicans, the failures of these private contractors are in fact the government’s failures since the Obama administration should have known better than to hand over the Healthcare.gov website to private contractors without properly overseeing those contractors because, as we know, private contractors like to cut corners in the name of profit.
A non-functioning website also means that the “millions” of Americans who might lose their individual policies in the coming months will have to take their chances getting gouged in the private market because they were “lied to” by a president who promised them they could keep the plans they have. However, is this the fault of the government and Obamacare, or the fault of insurance companies who refuse to cut into their profits in order to meet the mandates of the ACA and offer people better coverage at lower rates? Does it even matter that the insurance these people end up with will probably be better than the non-compliant coverage that’s being terminated? The answer doesn’t even matter, because, of course, it’s the government’s fault. And the Republicans score again.
I say all of this with a certain tongue-in-cheek attitude, but at the end of the day, it really is the fault of President Obama and the Democratic Party for taking up such an incredibly important issue as universal healthcare, muddying it with shoddy right-wing ideas, and then completely fouling it up with lousy implementation. If there was a proper progressive movement within the Democratic Party, it might’ve taken up Congressman Alan Grayson’s one-page-long Public Option Act in 2010 instead of the bloated bill they borrowed from the GOP. While it’s possible the members of Congress simply can’t handle a bill which can’t be read in one sitting, they also appear to be unable to champion one that would undercut the avaricious insurance industry, immediately and entirely.
If the Republicans could, then maybe it would be easier to take them seriously when they talk about how much they dislike the Affordable Care Act, which does so much for them. With a little luck, it might even help them win back the Senate and even the White House.
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