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Health care should be about policy, not politics

Judy Garland • May 19, 2014 at 9:38 AM

The weekly magazine American Profile, which comes Tuesdays in the Press, has twice dedicated its health column to guidance on the Affordable Care Act. One issue featured an AARP spokesman outlining how seniors are affected, with not one word to support U.S. Rep. Phil Roe’s distrust of the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Maybe that’s because AARP representatives will likely be involved. Another issue of the magazine summarized in simple, straightforward language how the law affects the rest of us. We’ve endured extreme tea party Republicans in Congress standing their ground, hurting their party and costing the nation $24 billion. Such an astounding consequence seems not to have rattled the “ideologically pure,” and they prattle on. In an Oct. 20 column in this newspaper, a local pundit warned that our taxes will skyrocket with Obamacare, quoting from a list compiled by Americans for Tax Reform. (Please know that’s Grover Norquist’s organization. He’s the guy who bullies congressmen into abrogating their responsibility for realistic tax policy with his nonew-taxes pledge.) Our pundit quoted the Congressional Budget Office, too, but fails to mention that non-partisan group holds to the projection its held since 2010, which is that Obamacare will significantly reduce budget deficits. There are no significant new taxes on middle- or lower-income people. Higher-income people and some businesses will see non-burdensome increases. Nowhere is there reference to the undeniable, which is that staying the course as the nation with the most expensive health care in the world will, with absolute certainty, bankrupt us. Hatred of Obama and unrelenting opposition to anything he considers to be in the public interest guides the Republican Party. They fought the inauguration of Medicare and Social Security all those years ago with essentially the same arguments, and they’ve never stopped looking for opportunities to cripple or erode their effectiveness. But it’s way different this time. There’s an ugly baseness and madness to it that can only hurt us. Smart people have been at work trying to ferret out the logic, and it’s beginning to come clear. Republican strategist Bill Kristol spelled out in clearest terms the reason Republicans must resist health care reform when the Clintons gave it their best effort. He and other Republican strategists, behind the scenes, continue to spread the same language and same political understanding. It’s made up of three parts: Americans will come to value affordable and uncomplicated access to health care, Democrats will be identified as compassionate protectors of the middle class once again and it will strike a punishing blow to Republican electibility for decades to come. It’s not about health care. It’s about politics. The Affordable Care Act will benefit Americans, freeing us of a pervading anxiety and providing better care at less cost. It will always be hard to deal with being sick, but we’ll be free of a parasitic insurance system allowed to deny access to care or manufacture reasons not to keep their promises to us. Judy Garland of Johnson City is a community health care activist.

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