Opinions & Editorials

Conservatives need to accept ‘Obamacare’

By Alex Reyes/The Guardsman

We’re looking at an Affordable Care Act that can save lives, too?

That’s right.

The good news is in the last two months several hundred million Americans just got better coverage for addiction treatment in their insurance with the final provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Parity Law and new changes in Medicare, which just took effect Jan. 1.

That’s a revolution and a great achievement for a lot of people in this country, politically and at the grassroots.

You can probably imagine the shock I felt when I heard such a positive comment about the Affordable Care Act on the radio as I drove to class on Feb. 4.

In the wake of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death due to a heroin overdose during the preceding weekend, KQED’s morning Forum program aired a show on battling drug addiction.

Host Michael Krasny began the show by interviewing Gordon Humphries, a Stanford School of Medicine professor and a former senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Krasny went on to ask Humphries about new insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment programs.

“The Affordable Care Act defines substance abuse (treatment) for the first time as an essential health care benefit,” Humphries said.  “So all new plans must offer benefits and they must offer them at parity. The Parity Law requires employers to cover addiction treatment and Medicare, which historically for outpatient services.”

The Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to and derided as “Obamacare,” has had to endure a withering political assassination attack by the Republican Party since it was debated and passed by Congress in 2010.

The act has almost never enjoyed majority support from Americans polled about it and for good reason (or, in this case, for the worst of reasons).

It was condemned by Republican lawmakers as a “job killer” and a federal government takeover of health care before it even took effect.

Last March, Mad Dog Republican Michele Bachmann (if you don’t know about the Mad Dog wing of the Grand Old Party, tune in to C-SPAN, stick with it and listen closely) took to the floor of the House of Representatives and declared that the Affordable Care Act “literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.”

And just last week, Republican lawmakers, and even card-carrying members of the “liberal media” such as NBC’s White House correspondent Chuck Todd and NBC correspondent Luke Russert misconstrued a Congressional Budget Office report that people would take advantage of the expanded health care coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act and leave the workforce.

Republicans quickly cited the report to claim that it confirmed their “Obamacare is a job-killer” argument.

The CBO report said that some Americans who chose to work less because of the Affordable Care Act’s extension of health care benefits might start their own businesses.

Another not so large leap of logic is that the American workforce consists of so many people looking for jobs that many if not all of those that might become available could be filled.

Why does expanded health care benefits for all Americans drive the Republican Party mad?

Such conservative inhumanity is not a new story.

In a 1961, future Calif. governor and United States President Ronald Reagan recorded a 10-minute vinyl LP record in which he condemned a congressional bill that was a stepping stone to Medicare, which became law in 1965.

“From here,” Reagan declared, “it’s a short step to all the rest of socialism … pretty soon, your son won’t decide when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living.  He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.”

In 2005, George W. Bush became the first president to call for a partial privatization of Social Security.

The Wall Street greed-driven financial collapse of 2008 did little to quell Republican enthusiasm for later attempts to fully privatize Social Security.

In the October 2012 vice presidential candidate debate, Republican challenger Paul Ryan confirmed that he supports privatizing the program. Ryan remains a serious contender for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination.

Unlike “Obamacare,” such Republican Party hatred of expanded health care for all Americans does not save lives.

Neither the “lame stream” media nor the American people should continue to aid and abet such enemies of social democracy.

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