Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the day that the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Since it was signed, provisions of the Act have phased-in, transforming the US healthcare system for the better. Americans are now free to purchase health insurance, whether they are healthy or not. Americans now have the opportunity to change jobs or start a business without worrying whether we can buy insurance. And the days of being forced into bankruptcy due to catastrophic hospital bills are over.
Despite these and many other benefits of the ACA, the Republican Party has waged a four-year war against it. In fact, it seems that the only thing holding the Party together is their unified opposition to Americans having affordable access to medical care. It is the only issue on which the Ron Paul isolationists and the McCain interventionists can agree. Overturning the ACA is the sole common goal between Santorum anti-choice fundamentalists and Romney/Koch corporatists.
Yes, denying health care to tens of millions of Americans is the one basic aim of all of the disparate branches of the Republican Party. But now that the fight is over, what will unite the party in the future? What do they have now?
It has truly been a long and desperate four-year fight. A television "news" network, dozens of radio bloviators, and hundreds of Republican politicos have conducted a concerted effort to mislead the public on aspects of the law. From the early outright fabrications such as "death panels", to recent imaginary data privacy concerns, the ACA opponents have unashamedly invested in the Churchillian truism, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on."
The opponents of your right to access affordable healthcare have certainly been busy in court. There have been at least 31 separate cases tying up the court system with various objections to the law. The only major result from this effort has been a Supreme Court decision allowing Republican Governors to deny coverage to 7.78 million of their states' poorest.
The desperate fight to return to a time when an estimated 40 thousand Americans a year died prematurely due to lack of access to health care has continued in Congress. While the country badly needs action on jobs, immigration, gun safety, and the minimum wage, the Republican House has voted a bizarre 50+ times to repeal the ACA.
Don't forget the 16-day Republican government shut-down. In an attempt to go back to when 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied insurance at any price, House Republicans shuttered the government of the United States. This had to be the most heinous act of the entire ACA fight, harming our economy and national credit worthiness for no clear purpose.
Not content with the action in the courts, in Congress, and by duplicitous politicians, deep-pocketed oligarchs have spent over $400 million on anti-ACA propaganda commercials. Upon investigation, most of these ads are found to feature paid actors posing as patients, or tell bogus "horror" stories. Billionaires who could easily buy the best of care if they, themselves, get sick are even encouraging people to gamble with their futures by going without health insurance.
However, despite all of the misinformation, the creepy Uncle Sam ads, the court trials, the 50 + repeal votes, and the Republican wailing and gnashing of teeth, the ACA is living up to its promise. The number of uninsured Americans is going down. For the fourth straight year in a row, healthcare cost increases are at historical lows. As of March 22, a total of 5.46 million Americans had signed-up for insurance through the exchanges, with a projected enrollment of 6.2 million by the end of March.
Due to the expansion, an additional 6.2 million people have so-far been able to enroll in Medicaid and CHIP. Three million young people are now covered under their parents' health plans. The ACA has become so popular that only 33 % of Americans support defunding, delaying, or repealing the law.
Even the most partisan Republicans realize that the battle is over. The ACA is here to stay. People now have the opportunity to shop and readily compare insurance policies in an open marketplace. Patients are no longer alone in their dealings with the insurance companies. Ever increasing numbers are benefiting from life-saving access to quality care. Taking away these new-found freedoms is something that simply will not happen.
Even Ron Johnson, who exaggerated that "Obamacare is the single greatest threat to our freedom in my lifetime." is convinced. In a December interview, he admitted, "It’s no longer just a piece of paper that you can repeal and it goes away. There’s something there. We have to recognize that reality. We have to deal with the people that are currently covered under Obamacare.”
Up to now, opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been the only thing unifying the Republican/Tea Party. Party politicians are finally coming to realize the futility of continuing to fight a law that greatly improves the lives of all Americans. Voters are already well aware of what the Republican Party is against. We have heard all about it for the last four years. It is time for them to to start telling us what they are for.
If you are eligible to purchase health insurance through the federal exchange, you still have time to do so through the March 31 deadline. Visit the exchange website at www.healthcare.gov to check-out your options.