In his Nov. 17 column, “President Obama in a fix,” Rich Lowry accused the president of not only badly handling the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, but also of knowingly lying to us. I heard echoes of Congressman Wilson and the many talking heads on conservative media that have been playing that song ever since the Clintons tried to enact health legislation in the 1990s.
The truth is that what Clinton and Obama both want is for the American people to have as close to universal health care as possible. That Obama mishandled the rollout is something he has accepted responsibility for. That 40-plus million Americans are “in a fix” is something that the conservative Lowry doesn’t seem to acknowledge.
I am not old enough to have witnessed the clamor against FDR’s programs like Social Security, but I was certainly on site when Medicare came through amid rants and raves like we’re hearing now.
It was instructive to see some tea party demonstrators in 2009 raising placards that read “Keep your gov’t hands off my Medicare.” They obviously didn’t realize that the government actually runs it and that it only costs 3 percent to administer. They also were no doubt oblivious to the 20-30 percent that private insurance companies collect for administration and profits.
When one considers that the health costs in America are somewhere between $2 trillion and $3 trillion per year, depending on who is counting, those administrative and profit amounts are between $400 billion and $900 billion. And that, in a nutshell, is what the fuss is all about. That is a lot of excess premiums that are being paid by insurance clients and why, when the ACA is fully implemented, there will be cost reductions.
Many of us, and I’m sure the president is included, would rather have had a single-payer plan or a Medicare-for-all system, but it was a political impossibility. The point must be made, however, that the president, imperfect that he is, has attempted to remedy the “fix” that millions of Americans are in, i.e., no insurance, or bare minimum benefit insurance, or excessively expensive insurance.
And without the other aspects of the ACA, such as children remaining on family plans until age 26 or acceptance of people with pre-existing medical problems, the idea of returning to the status quo is abhorrent.