President Obama kicked the issue of what he himself called “Obamacare” into higher gear when he answered a question posed by the media in an Aug. 9 press conference. His response became an attack on the GOP’s central campaign platform for 2014 midterms: to defund Obamacare and shut down the government if they do not get their way. Obama charged, “ the idea that you would shut down the government unless you prevent 30 million people from getting health care is a bad idea.” With that answer, he put the GOP on the defensive, a change from his own prior reliance on simply enumerating health insurance reform benefits. The Democratic Party’s job is now to run with the ball he has given them and to take this new, more aggressive approach to the public discourse.
If Obama and his supporters continue to put the GOP on the defensive, the GOP will be unmasked for what it really is. It is an ideologically fixated party that protects a health care system that leaves too many with no access to good health care, and screws those already insured with anti-consumer practices that have made inability to pay health care bills the number-one cause of personal bankruptcy. The GOP’s Tea Party wing will also now have to defend their threat to close down the government, a tactic the GOP tried once before that caused them to lose the next election cycle.
By stating his health care reform benefits in terms of what health care consumers would lose if the GOP succeeded, Obama has a better chance to help the public understand the law. So far, just listing benefits of the law has been a failed strategy. However, enough of Obamacare has been implemented for those 85 percent already insured by their employers for Pres. Obama to make a good case. He can and did charge that the GOP wants to eliminate protecting consumers from insurers that use excessive amounts of premiums for administrative overhead or stop protecting them from denial of insurance because of lifetime caps or preexisting conditions. The GOP will now have to defend their proposal to delete such popular provisions as keeping young adults on parent’s policies, or copay free cancer screening, annual checkups and contraception.
The right wing media is full of claims that Obamacare is already a failure, a bit premature since the implementation of the provision that would give a way for the uninsured to buy affordable insurance has not even happened and will not begin until October, when consumers can begin to sign up.
What will happen before the November 2014 midterms is that enough states will have successfully implemented Obamacare to show the potential of success. That explains why the Tea Party is focusing on defunding at this time, hoping to knock out the ability of states to succeed by taking away their ability to finance implementation. The Tea Party fears Obamacare’s success.
That there are some improvements that could be made in the law is indisputable. For example, the small number of businesses not offering insurance and butting up to the 50-employees threshold may reduce their full-time workforce. There are proposals that have been made to solve the issue, but the GOP Party of No refuses to even consider any legislative tweaks, rather stands in favor of just killing off the entire legislation. Obama is onto something. His approach of going on the attack by painting the GOP into an anti-consumer, unreasonable corner may well be a winner.
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