In The Badger Herald’s point-counterpoint exchange last week on Obamacare, the portion written by Vincent Borkowski
was riddled with factual and logical errors attempting to support ridiculous points. The primary
grievances about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known
as “Obamacare,” were disjointed complaints unsupported by facts or rational argument.
First, some history to provide a basis for discussion. The individual mandate, which
is the lightning rod in the PPACA for conservative criticism, was originally developed by the
Heritage Foundation, not the most respected but certainly the most vocal conservative think
tank, in 1989, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In 1993, Republicans, including many presently howling about the PPACA,
introduced two separate health care bills relying on the idea of a mandate as the conservative
alternative to the creatively titled “Hillarycare” of the Democrats, as reported by The Daily Kos.
This small fact dispels one of the most prevalent points by opponents of the PPACA,
namely, that there was no compromise involved in the passage of the bill. The Democrats
did not merely compromise, they wholly adopted the Republican proposals from a decade before.
Further evidence of the bipartisan nature of the bill is that current Republican presidential
hopeful Mitt Romney signed similar legislation, the deftly named “Romneycare,” as the
governor of Massachusetts, as reported by Forbes. The so-called “socialist principles” of the PPACA are actually
Opponents maintain that the PPACA is “disgustingly expensive,” as Borkowski does, which is a non sequitur
considering many “fiscally responsible” Republicans have proposed similar legislation in
the past, and for good reason. Repealing the PPACA would, according to the nonpartisan
Congressional Budget Office, increase the federal deficit by $230 billion over the next decade,
and drive it up even more in the decades after that as reported by CBS news. People who wish to get rid of the PPACA
are advocating for more government spending, not less. However, the repeal would reduce
insurance premiums, but only because coverage would be curtailed and everyone with
preexisting conditions would be excluded.
Furthermore, subsidies would be terminated, so that
people would end up paying more for worse health insurance, as reported by Forbes. Repeal would render 32 million more citizens uninsured, as reported by the Huffington Post. This should
particularly concern those worried about society bearing the high costs of bad foresight, because when
the uninsured visit the emergency room, the taxpayers provide the purse. Either hospitals
withhold needed medical attention, thus demanding the hospitals observe people they could
save die in the waiting room, or they treat them. If they are not insured and therefore cannot cover the
exorbitant costs of emergency room treatments, the government must cover it, or else the
hospitals would be bankrupt.
Mandating insurance entails access to preventative care and
medical attention outside the super-expensive emergency room and, better still, their insurance
providers would be paying for it.
The idea that because Borkowski “doesn’t use birth control” his tax dollars shouldn’t pay
for it is patently absurd, but he goes even further saying that rich liberals should cover the cost
of contraceptives. If that’s a good metric, it seems reasonable that those who support the
religious institutions’ right to deny contraceptives to those relying on them for health insurance
should be made to pay for the billions of dollars in lost federal and state revenue, shifted to
other citizens by these religious institutions’ tax exempt status.
And for that matter, why should
Midwesterners be paying for highways in Alaska if they will never use them? The list of
services the government provides that most will never use is endless, yet everyone uses many of these services, and all share the pecuniary burden of the services each individual uses.
To pick out a governmental good or service and say “I don’t use it” is a preposterous and
hypocritical standard for national policymaking.
Another of Borkowski’s claims, that “no law should force a religion to do anything that it does not agree
with” is demonstrably false: bigamy, adolescent marriage and child sacrifice are all illegal no matter
one’s particular spiritual persuasion. Contraceptives may be objectionable to some, but if they
are purporting to provide health insurance, then they are obligated to cover all areas of health.
Just as parents should not give their gravely ill children prayer instead of antibiotics, churches
shouldn’t give their employees dogma instead of contraception. They can believe and preach
that it’s wrong, but as long as they are in the business of providing health insurance, or paying
others to provide health insurance, they must cover all medication and treatments medical
experts agree have real medical benefits.
How often do these facts and arguments have to be presented and subsequently refuted
before the people repeating them aren’t considered merely ignorant but intentionally deceptive,
willing to say any blatant falsehood to further their political agenda? The PPACA is a federal
deficit-reducing measure, insuring more people and attempting to control burgeoning costs. The belief that somebody living in a society should only have to pay for the things one personally
uses is mindlessly deleterious.
Vincent Dumas (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in history and philosophy and minoring in computer science.