Nine Republican assemblymen made the news Tuesday with some peculiar requests. Chief among them: a desire to arrest federal officials who attempt to implement Obamacare.
I have talked at length in the past about the benefits of moving the nation away from universal coverage based on emergency care and toward coverage with a greater focus on primary care. Before I rehash those ideas, I want to talk about the continuing problem with the conversation surrounding Obamacare.
The voices coming from the Republican Party continue to proclaim how adamantly opposed to Obamacare they are, but they fail to explain exactly why. If you are a Republican politician, I want to hear specifics — are you against children being covered under their parents’ insurance until they are 26? Are you against preventing insurance companies from turning down people with preexisting conditions? Or is it solely the requirement that all people be insured that you oppose?
If the last issue is your only concern, then explain to me on a fiscal level why you oppose it. Stop offering insights like those of Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, who said, “Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he’s above the Constitution,” because we had that discussion already, and the Supreme Court made its decision. Obamacare is constitutional, the president has been re-elected and this law is moving forward.
So, instead of pontificating, tell me why you don’t think it would be beneficial for the average Wisconsinite to have access to a health insurance exchange. Better yet, explain to me why, for the vast majority of citizens who already have insurance, it would not be better to institute health care policies that will move people away from the emergency room and into primary care situations.
Because that is what this law comes down to, and yet it is the talking point I hear mentioned the least. It is so far away from the mainstream of conversation that former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., thought he could get away with saying on 60 Minutes that the emergency room works as a care center for the uninsured.
I’m just tired of the entire farce. As a nation, we cannot continue to pay for uninsured patients to go to the emergency room. It is the most cost-ineffective place to see patients. The fundamental problem Obamacare addresses is that while the conversation of this nation has revolved around whether we want universal health care, the reality is we already have it — in its most costly form.
We are so far past the issue of whether we should reform the health care system that I think statements like this are frankly insulting to Wisconsinites. Obamacare is not the only health care reform going on right now, but it is certainly the most public, and it has successfully passed every hurdle to become law. The question is no longer whether it will be implemented, but how. And I would very much like to see the state government involved on behalf of the citizens and not stuck on talking points that were wrong when the bill first passed and are irrelevant now.
So no, I’m not worried federal officials implementing a constitutionally upheld law will be arrested. But I am worried that this far into a national conversation about holding those who raise everyone’s premiums by using emergency care without coverage accountable, we can’t talk about the effects of the policy. Enough about how much you abstractly hate Obamacare. I want to hear about the specific policy changes, and if you disagree with a specific point, what you would do differently.
John Waters (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a junior majoring in journalism.