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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Defund? Delay? Repeal? Replace? Obamacare

by Dr. Jack Sternberg, Contributing Author: Due to the continued news coverage of the Trump administration and the Republicans beginning efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, I thought I would write address this issue again. I anticipate my thoughts may be controversial.

As many of you know, I have struggled for years concerning my attitude towards the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and it’s Arkansas byproduct, the Medicaid Expansion we call the Private Option (Arkansas Works). It is fact that 50% or more of the country also dislikes Obamacare and wishes to get rid of it.

So, I must ask myself and also many of you, “Why do we dislike it so much?” Liberals think we are terrible and uncaring people because we wish to get rid of Obamacare. How can we dislike a program whose stated goal is “to guarantee that all Americans” have health insurance? If Obamacare succeeded, all doctors, hospitals and health professionals will get paid and thereby everyone would receive equal and excellent healthcare. How can that be a bad or unworthy goal? As a physician who has worked in a charitable clinic for years, my previous indigent patients who have gotten on the Private Option have benefitted greatly. My personal conclusion is that it is an admirable goal and for many, it has worked well. So why have we conservatives been and continue to be so strongly against it? How is it that something seemingly so good can at the same time also be bad?

Let’s for a moment ignore for the answer that after 5-6 years it hasn’t achieved many of its goals and that premiums and deductibles are rising (rather than decreasing as promised) and access to doctors and hospitals have decreased. Yet, millions of more Americans are now insured; at least on paper. Six years ago we didn’t have these facts but we were still against Obamacare back then and we still are. Why?

Looking into my own mind and heart I’ve tried to understand my ambivalence, especially my dislike of the program. Maybe some of my thoughts and conclusions are also yours. Maybe there’s a bigger reason than it just isn’t working. I’ll sum up my deepest reason in the next sentence and then try to explain.

I’m progressively annoyed with the “Insidious Progressive Creep” of the Redistribution of Income and Wealth in America. Obamacare/Private Option was just another method for achieving this goal. It was immediately obvious to anyone of any common sense that you can’t insure an extra 40 million people for free. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The money to pay for this admirable goal had to come from somewhere. That somewhere would be other individuals who were either middle or upper class wage earners. They would either pay higher taxes and/or higher insurance premiums and in addition, the national debt would increase.

Those 50% of Americans who actually pay income taxes continuously see their hard earned tax dollars being redistributed to the 50% of Americans who don’t pay any income taxes. These are given out as entitlements. (I personally do not include Social Security or Medicare as entitlements since people actually contributed to these programs over the years. Let’s also remember that wage earners pay for this as another tax coming out of their paychecks).

As tax paying Americans continue to see the number of Americans who receive welfare, “Earned Income Tax Credits,” Food Stamps (SNAP), questionable Disability income, housing subsidies, transportation, free wireless phones and so much more, they are getting progressively more angry. When is enough, enough? Then came along Obamacare on top of all the above. To many, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

If you’re fortunate enough to be working for a company that offers health insurance it rarely is now free to you and you pay part of it (your company subsidizes the rest). Your family is extra and you pay extra for them. Maybe they take thousands of dollars yearly out of your paychecks so you pay part of the premium. You usually have a deductible (around $1000/member), a fee for each doctor visit, a 20% Co-Pay and Co-Insurance and you pay for all your medications at different “tier” prices. The frustration comes when you realize that the person on Medicaid (those new adults registered on the Private Option/Arkansas Works) gets all this for FREE and you’re paying through the nose for insurance while receiving less benefits. The others on Obamacare have the government (your tax dollars) subsidizing their payment for insurance. Your gut says something is wrong with this picture.

It’s an obvious fact that in America’s Redistribution of Income and Wealth, the standard of living for the poor is improved. But let’s acknowledge for those paying for the poor (except maybe for the top 1% of earners), their standard of living is and must decrease to some extent and degree because they get to keep less of their earned income. Obamacare was just the latest method of wealth redistribution.

Then comes along the likes of Bernie Sanders who wants free childcare and free college for everyone. More wealth redistribution (But I digress).

So I will end by saying that even though I better understand why I dislike Obamacare, it doesn’t really help me to “get over it.”

Finally, President Donald Trump and the Republican congress have what I consider to be an impossible task. Replacing Obamacare with a new health care system that insures all peoples, keeps the best parts of our traditional medical system, keeps the good parts of Obamacare (such as pre-existing illness) yet costs much less and is more efficient and truly works.

All I can say is, “Good Luck.” Not everything has a satisfactory solution.
-------------------
Jack Sternberg, MD, is a retired medical doctor and former Chairman of the Garland County TEA Party Patriots in Arkansas, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Jack Sternberg, Defund? Delay? Repeal? Replace? Obamacare To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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