TWO CHEERS FOR THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Merrill Ring

It is a royal pain to have to listen to the massive propaganda campaign against the ACA.  Here is the short defense of the Act.

I am very tired of hearing all the phony and often absurd criticism of the Affordable Care Act.  So I’m writing to praise it.

Keep in mind what “it’ is.  “It” is not the troubles with the Federal web-site, Healthcare.gov .  Those problems are the result partially of normal difficulties in starting up a complex system, made more complex and difficult intentionally by 36 Republican-controlled states that, for anti-Obama reasons, refused to start their own sites, thereby over-loading the national site, and partially of a failure of proper oversight by the Obama administration.  

Nor is the “it” the cancellations of inadequate insurance and Obama’s inexplicably mistaken claim that there would be no cancellations.  Cancellation of junk policies was always an aim of the ACA, but it has been made worse by insurance companies' premature and unnecessary cancellations in the interest of misleading people into more expensive policies.  Criticism of the ACA on either of those grounds is irrelevant to an evaluation of the Act itself.

I do not intend, in praising the Act, to run through a very long list of its good things. Those can be found in any competent assessment of it. Rather I wish to assert here a very simple claim:  the ACA is one of the most monumentally valuable creations of our government.

It is not the best that could have been done:  a single-payer system, similar to Medicare for everyone, would have been far superior. Second best would have been the present ACT if it included a ‘public option’, allowing people of all ages to buy into Medicare.  But in trying to save the primary role of private insurance companies in the US health care system, Senator Max Baucus (the Act should be called Baucuscare in recognition of its chief architect) settled for the third best outcome.

Nonetheless, the ACA is such a huge step forward, another step in the long attempt to move our health care system to what all the other developed countries have long since achieved, to a system in which everyone is granted as a matter of right access to healthcare.  The ACA does not get us all the way there: but it is, given political realities, a giant moral advance, giving us a decently respectable place in the community of nations.

Everyone of good will is rooting for the quick success of the ACA and hoping that its flaws will be corrected in the near future.  If you are instead hoping for failure of the Act, you simply do not appreciate what the ACA is going to do for every American and thus for the country.

Let us have two cheers for Obamacare.