What we hear from Republicans is that the Affordable Care Act is “a disaster” or “broken,” and that the new House version will provide more access to health care without that nasty mandate that everyone buy insurance, and that it will cost far, far less. Pie in the sky. That is NOT what the current bill passed by the House is about.
We also hear people like Paul Ryan talking about the mandate that everyone buy health insurance: “We are not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do.” (Quote from an interview on Face the Nation, 3/12/17). This is reiterated frequently by Speaker Ryan, other Republican members of Congress, and Republican policy makers: “I like for Americans to choose the benefits they want… I’m not in the business of telling people what benefits they should and shouldn’t have.” (Quote from Lanhee Chen of the the Hoover Institute, PBS Newshour, 3/13/17).
It seems to me that the very idea of government arose from the social need for rules and regulations so that we can all get along – so society can function smoothly and our basic needs can be met. Government tells us to stop at red lights while driving, even if we don’t want to; to wear a seatbelt while driving, even if we don’t want to; to become educated and get a license before we fly a plane or perform neurosurgery, even if we don’t want to; to pay income taxes that support wars, even if we don’t want to. Many Republican Representatives and Senators would have women have babies, even if they don’t want to. Given that one, how onerous is it to tell people to buy health insurance, even if they don’t want to?
What would look really good to me right now is a situation in which the Republicans stop trying to sabotage and replace “Obamacare” just because President Obama’s name is associated with it, and Republicans and Democrats come together to fix the things that are wrong with the Affordable Care Act. Let’s be grown-ups here. How can we, together, craft something that will meet the goals of (1) providing quality health care to all people in the country while (2) being frugal in ways that do not leave people out of health care.
We all contribute to schools, even though we may not have kids in them — or the building of roads, even though we may not drive. We contribute to Social Security in our youth when we don’t need it, so we can have it in our older years when we do. Asking everyone to contribute to health care by being insured — and making it affordable to do that seems an intelligent part of health care reform.