Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Healthcare reform – the fight won’t die

Nothing that was said or heard or done Monday – or will occur in the next couple of days – is meant to sway any of us when it comes to the issue of the legitimacy of health care reform.

This is all about trying to sway the nine members of the Supreme Court of the United States, which is hearing the issue and may well render a decision some time around Election Day on the fate of the reform plan that was the significant achievement of Barack Obama’s first term as president.

WHICH MEANS THE big question we all ought to be contemplating as we hear of the reports from Washington (where attorneys are arguing the issue) is just how much will political partisanship taint the way the court approaches this issue?

I’d like to think the answer to that question is, “It won’t!” But I’m not that naïve.

Although I’m also sure there will be some semblance of “the law” based in the ruling on the case that is brought about by Obama’s partisan critics who are determined to see that health care reform never takes effect.

If it reads like I’m critical of his critics, you’d be correct. This whole legal action reeks of partisanship from people who still haven’t gotten over (and likely never will) the fact that Obama had the gall to win a presidential election in 2008.

THE HEALTHCARE REFORM measure that Obama signed into law just over two years ago (the ideologues made a point last week of pointing out the actual date as one of “shame” that they would spare us from ever having to note in the future) is that measure that would create health insurance plans, of sorts, for people who currently do not have medical coverage.

They would be subsidized by the federal government so that people would be able to afford them, regardless of how little their income is. Which would take away the major cause why many people do not have health insurance – they can’t afford it.
OBAMA: It's about his legacy

In my mind, that knocks down the major line of attack being used by the ideologues – that people are being hit by the threat of financial penalties come Income Tax time if they continue to refuse to get medical coverage.

It’s not really a “tax” on low-income people if the federal government is making it feasible for people to get the medical coverage that would help them avoid the “penalty.”

OF COURSE, THE ideologues don’t really care about the penalty, or even the lower-income people being burdened in that way.

They don’t want to have to assume any responsibility for medical coverage – which would be a big burden for the nation. Although I’d argue the current situation where we have people who can’t get adequate medical treatment because they don’t have insurance (and can’t afford it out-of-pocket because doctor bills have become so costly that no one can really afford the true cost of treatment) is a bigger burden on our nation.

It is another example of a case where the “weak link” of our society threatens to drag us all down.

A lot of the arguments I’m making here are the same ones I made three years ago when this was the hot-button issue before Congress, which ended with Obama making significant compromises and scaling back the plans just so he could say he got something enacted into law that could be called “healthcare” reform.

YET THAT IS not good enough for the ideologues – who likely realize that even this watered-down measure will provide some relief for people who currently fear getting sick. And as Obama spokesman David Plouffe says, the fact that the ideologues use the label “Obamacare” to demonize the plan will be reversed on them by resulting in Obama getting all the credit for the benefits that will kick in as of next year.

That is a partisan line, in and of itself. But it may have a bit of truth. Which is why the ideologues want the Supreme Court to strike this down before it can ever take effect.

Which is why I found it interesting that some of the high court’s conservative-leaning justices (the ones who can lean toward the ideologues) are saying it’s too early to bring this particular argument of an unfair “tax” up. Perhaps people have to actually start being forced to pay it, before the court can find it unfair and strike it down.

Could this wind up as a case where the nation’s high court expresses some sort of sympathy for the critics, but finds a technicality to reject giving them what they want (ie, denying other people access to insurance)?

IT’S NOT A high-minded moralistic win for the Obama administration. Although I’m sure his people would take it and declare “Victory!” before moving on to the next issue (immigration reform, perhaps) that will offend “the right.”

Because that political offense ultimately is what this issue has become all about.


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