With the next stages of the Affordable Healthcare Act being implemented and the GOP government shutdown in place, once again Republicans are fighting to repeal their much despised Obamacare. What is amazing about the Republican push against Obamacare is that in the 1990s, they were calling for the very system we are currently implementing.
In the 1990s, Hillary Clinton introduced a healthcare plan that sent Republican’s into a frenzy, the Health Security Act of 1993. They attacked Clinton’s proposal, claiming that their system would be better served for all Americans. But, the fight wasn’t against universal health care but how best to implement it.
Clinton’s proposal was a single-payer health care system, which is paid for by the government instead of individuals. While there are different variations of how single-payer works, the general idea is that instead of each person paying out of pocket, the government collects all insurance claims and pays it as a whole. A great example is Medicare, which is a single-payer system, but only covers seniors over the age of 65. Two different examples are the UK, which has health care run by the government, and Canada, which in basic terms has the government contract out to private companies.
The system that Mrs. Clinton proposed was a mandate that all employers must give their employees health care coverage. The hope was to get universal coverage for all Americans. But, Clinton faced strong opposition from conservatives. Sound familiar?
With staunch opposition to Clinton’s proposal, some conservatives came up with a different idea of what health care should look like in America. They believed that people should be covered, but that it should be run privately, not publicly as a single-payer system would encourage. This, at least until recently, was generally the GOP view on health care. Democrats wanted government owned and Republicans wanted private owned, so what happened?
Mitt Romney, whom you may remember from the 2008 election, was the governor of Massachusetts and in 2006 enacted into law the Massachusetts health care insurance reform law also know as Romneycare. This Republican health care plan is very similar to Obamacare and its enactment was followed by the GOP pushing for their health care mandate in Washington in 2007.
By making health care coverage mandatory, Republicans saw the potential to save taxpayers money from the uninsured going to the ER or getting coverage only after they became sick, if possible. Based on previous GOP views, Obamacare begins to look like a compromise. Instead of asking for single-payer health care, President Obama settled with mandated, subsidized, privately insured health care that would allow people with pre-existing conditions the ability to gain coverage and force companies to spend their earnings on actual health care.
It would then beg the question, why the sudden idea of government forcing itself on the American people?
Somehow, someone thought this commercial was somehow not offensive, unsettling, and downright sexist.
From the infancy of the Affordable Health Care Act, the GOP has hated it. Tea Party members were elected on anti-Obamacare tickets, 37 votes to attempt to repeal it have failed in Congress, and in more recent news, a government shut down. The first time in history the government was shut down not to debate the actual spending bill, but to hold the country hostage on an unrelated piece of legislation. This shut down is already affecting millions of Americans and is completely unnecessary. When the government shut down under Bill Clinton the economy could handle the few days here and there to discuss the funding of Medicare. Today, the budget has nothing to do with Obamacare. So, once again, why?
Perhaps it is because Obama ran on his health care plan and it was his key issue. If he was unable to pass it into law, he may have been looked at as too young, too left. I was too young to understand the Clinton proposal in the 1990s, but with better understanding today, it is difficult for me to believe this is a fight for actual health care. The more I understand this debate the more I see it as a power struggle. If the GOP can defeat Obama’s health care triumph the stronger they look. But, the reality is, the longer they waste their time on this issue, the more people will understand that Obamacare is not going to destroy America as we know it or form a Communist dictatorship, but actually help people. Once people start understanding the legislation and seeing it for what it really is, a step in the right direction, they may start to question the complete and total blockade the GOP is trying to build. Because once the Affordable Care Act starts affecting peoples’ lives, the harder it will be to hate it.