OPINION: Winning at all costs isn’t winning
VOICE OF THE PROGRESSIVE
Free Press Opinion Columnist
I’ve been thinking a lot about politics lately, triggered by reading a novel based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s life. In the novel Eleanor accuses her husband, who was not yet president, of not believing in anything.
There are politicians like that. Winning is the only goal. Before the internet it was a little easier to say one thing to one group and another thing to a second and still something else to a third. The instant access to information makes it harder to get away with deliberately telling tales. But the lack of critical-thinking skills, another theme in the novel, allows the blurring of facts to continue.
One example is exhibited in a recent op-ed in the Daily Sentinel by County Commissioner John Justman. He does not want tax breaks or subsidies going to green energy, but is glad to take subsidies for his farm, and favors continued subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Justman does not see that either one is for or one is against subsidies, especially if one is a small-government Republican. Justman does not seem to see that oil and gas subsidies may harm his farm, when nearby property is leased and he is “force pooled.”
The GOP has promoted the belief that ObamaCare is a crazy waste of money, with government messing in everyone’s lives. They voted at least 40, maybe more, times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The local Democratic Party, which supports ObamaCare, recently sponsored information sessions about Colorado’s implementation of the law. The volunteer organizing these events dropped any reference to the party affiliation when it was rumored that Republicans were organizing protests, begging the question of what local Dems are willing to defend. Those dreaded protests turned into questions during the very informative sessions. Although it was rumored that Democrats were force-feeding propaganda, the sessions were conducted by the people charged by the State of Colorado with implementing the program. Why would anybody protest access to information?
In that series of events there are multiple examples of a lack of critical thinking. The crazy waste of money these days is emergency room care. When hospitals were ordered, by law, to treat everyone who presents themselves to an emergency room, the hospitals suddenly found themselves providing services to people who had no ability to pay. In order to stay in business, they raised their rates on all services, so that those who could afford to pay also paid for those who could not. Medical expenses began to shoot through the roof, and the mostly employer-based insurance premiums followed suit.
ObamaCare addresses that cost curve in many ways. It requires every American to have health insurance, giving insurance companies a larger pool from which to measure actuarial costs, theoretically driving down the cost of premiums. Since all Americans will be insured, hospitals should provide fewer un-reimbursed services, thus lowering their costs and ultimately their pricing. Insurance companies, which received a 15% government subsidy for offering prescription drug coverage, will no longer receive that subsidy. Individuals who cannot afford health care insurance, will be eligible for a tax credit to make coverage affordable. The tax credit will be paid directly to the insurance company. A win-win. New clients for the insurance company. Affordable coverage for the individual. Even small businesses are given a tax credit for offering insurance to their employees.
So government messing with everyone’s lives results in several win-wins. Insurance premiums will go down. Hospital costs will go down. Private hospitals and private insurance companies and private doctors will all benefit from more certainty in the payment delivery system. Individuals will benefit from access to affordable health care.
The most obvious lack of critical thinking is to protest something without knowing what it is. The GOP understands that people will like the benefits received as a result of the Affordable Care Act. They are still pretending that it is a crazy waste of money because the law was passed without Republican support. They hope to kill it before ordinary Americans realize that the GOP isn’t about making their lives better, they are about winning at any cost, even if that cost is a bunch of hooey.
Claudette Konola is a Democrat who knows in what she believes and is willing to stand up and say so. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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