The Affordable Care Act’s March 31 goal of signing up 6 million new insureds to the program is 84 percent complete as of the Ides of March. The loyal opposition to Obamacare continues to rail against the 2010 law and makes it a central issue for the 2014 Congressional elections.
Opposition to national health care reform has a long history. The President’s original plan had three major thrusts. It would have expanded the number of doctors and health care facilities in underserved areas, plus it would have made available premium based voluntary health insurance. This would have paid the health care expenses of participating citizens to similarly signed-up physicians, providers, and hospitals out of the federally administered insurance pool.
The date of the original proposal to Congress was November 19, 1945. The President was Harry S. Truman. Truman’s proposal fulfilled a promise made by his predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt.
The idea of health care reform in America reaches back to 1910-11 and Theodore Roosevelt’s run for a third Presidential term. Universal health care in Europe had already been accomplished and was reported on in the 1910 “Sage Foundation Report.” By 1910, all major, advanced nations enjoyed some form of universal health care.
A century of wrangling did little to quiet debate or solve the health care conundrum. Everyone, with only rare exemptions, accesses the health care system. Insurance of some kind must be available to all. Opponents to the law point to programs for the most needy among us, but ignore the massive, unwashed, middle-class where a lack of insurance and one serious illness leads to bankruptcy.
Health Care Reform opponents point to America as the world’s best health care. They complain about cues for procedures in other countries. Both assertions are true as far as they go.
You can buy the best health care in America. Optional procedures do create wait periods outside the U.S. But ignored are the facts that Americans (on average) die sooner, live sicker, and pay almost double the bill as in other, similar advanced countries.
Cues for optional procedures exist here too. It is common for heart bypass surgeries in America to wait four months following initial diagnosis. Even simple everyday procedures in America wait months to be performed.
Of course, if your bad heart is going to kill you tomorrow, the procedure will be done today. On the other hand, emergent threats are addressed in other, similar countries expeditiously too.
The truth is always viewed through the eye of a beholder. It is reasonable to expect health care will be available to all Americans and that it should offer outcomes and costs similar to those enjoyed by other advanced nations. How we achieve the goal is open to healthy debate, but not unthinking opposition.
Political disagreements must be careful not to be self-immolating. We remember how that long-ago political disagreement on the Ides of March played out. It was not a winning action for democratic government.