Behind the Republican ideological crusade against the Affordable Care Act

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Sun Feb 02, 2014 01:56:25AM | Categories: Obamacare (Affordable Care Act)
In the first month of the rollout of Romneycare in 2006, only 123 people signed up out of a population of 6.6 million. After two months only 2,289 had signed up and after eleven months, 36,167.  Nevertheless, despite the low initial enrollments, in the ensuing months and years the rollout proceeded without much media attention...glitches were quietly fixed as they were identified.  There were no partisan attacks on the law because Romneycare was bipartisan, having been passed unanimously in the Massachusetts Senate and 198-2 in the House. So  when Mitt Romney stepped down from his governorship, the new governor, Democrat Deval Patrick continued providing support to its successful implementation. Today the law is touted as an enormous success with 98.1 percent of adults and 99.8 percent of children covered with medical insurance.

So why do Republicans hate Obamacare and love Romneycare?  It's not like you're comparing apples and oranges...more like gala apples versus honey crisps.  Comparing laws, they both have the individual mandate, requiring everyone to purchase insurance or face a penalty.  In fact, Romney consulted with the Heritage Foundation in crafting the individual and business mandate for the Massachusetts law.  Both laws prohibit exclusions or charging higher costs for pre-existing conditions.  Both laws created market place exchanges where you can shop for the best deal. Both laws subsidize lower income households although Obamacare provides subsidies up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level while the Romneycare threshold is 300 percent...not a huge difference.

One difference, of course, is in size.  Romneycare  applies to only 6.6 million people, considerably less than the 300 million meant to be eventually covered under Obamacare. Also to promote wellness and diagnose health problems earlier, Obamacare requires policies  to cover preventative services with no co-pays or deductibles. Ditto for Romneycare, except that Romneycare requires co-pays. Romneycare includes children, parents, pregnant women and the long-term unemployed in their Medicaid expansion, whereas the Obamacare Medicaid expansion includes all families with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty limit. The Supreme Court later made this Medicaid expansion provision optional in Obamacare.

So what's the big deal? The minor differences certainly do not warrant the scale and viciousness of the incessant attacks that started before the law was even passed and have continued even beyond the Supreme Court's ruling and last year's failed ransom attempt to defund it with a government shutdown.  Now after the Supreme Court has upheld the law and we're four months into the rollout with some 9 million people enjoying its benefits, Republicans, especially Tea Party Republicans in Congress, are still attacking it with a campaign of misinformation, fear mongering and ignorance.

Michele Bachmann appearing on the Sean Hannity show said, “We’re going to stay on the repeal train because that’s hurting Americans." On the same show, Louie Gohmert stated that Obamacare “isn’t going to fix health care, it’s going to destroy it.” Steve Stockman says "Obamacare is less popular than chlamydia." Rick Santorum on Bill O'Reilly's show called it "not only bad for the economy, not only bad for people’s health, it’s also bad for freedom of conscience." Ted Cruz as a guest on ABC News stated, "I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare."

Even now while insurance companies are citing improvements in sign-ups and expressing optimism for the long haul, and now while some moderate Republicans are belatedly suggesting some ideas to "improve" Obamacare, the attacks from the far right continue.  Those right wing Republicans are caught up in what Obama describes as an "ideological crusade against Obamacare."  It would certainly seem in observing their antics, that the mere mention of the word Obamacare invokes a kind of Pavlovian response...so trained...so predictable...so repetitious, but also misinformed.

One has to wonder then if these seemingly illogical and overly hyped attacks are more motivated by the fact that the Affordable Care Act is touted as the signature achievement of Obama's presidency, and by undermining and discrediting that law, it is a way to undermine Obama's presidency.  Are the attacks then more about Obama the man and his overall policies than Obamacare alone?  Behind those attacks are the billionaire plutocrats..the Koch brothers and oil companies quest to squash EPA regulations and create doubt about Climate Change; Rupert Murdoch and his Republican propaganda machine, Fox News, broadcasting misinformation to keep his viewers in a continual state of rage and fear to garner enormous profits for himself; the military industrial complex and its need for continual war to quench it thirst for profits; the gun manufacturers' insatiable appetite for profits at the expense of common sense gun safety legislation and innocent children's lives; and religious institutions that see Obama's views and policies on abortion, gay marriage and contraception as a threat to their power to control the minds of their followers.  Is it the threat of the black man as president, whom they call a  socialist, Marxist, communist, secret Muslim, racist, and Kenyan not born in the United States, or is it what he stands for...a threat to the enormous profits, power  and continued inequality that the plutocrats have enjoyed and must defend, whatever it takes?
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