Two Pennies from My Pocket on Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature achievement, was upheld by the Supreme Court. (Photo: Matt Michrina, Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t like to talk about things that I don’t fully understand and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is one of them. I haven’t read the entire law, nor do I intend to; I don’t know all of the things that are in it, though I know quite a few; I also don’t know every single implication it will have, but neither do the smartest constitutional law scholars. Having to make decisions and judgments with just a little information is a function of living in a fast-paced and expansive modern republic–too much happens on any one day for any one person to know it all.

What I do know is that I was proud of my President and happy for my country when I first heard this morning that the Supreme Court had upheld his signature legislative achievement, which was intended to reform the abysmal healthcare system in the United States. I think that took Republicans and conservatives by surprise; I’ll even admit that it took me a little by surprise. Given the venomous and rancorous cacophony that’s been emanating from conservative and tea party camps over the past two years over health care, I didn’t think it possible that virtually the entire law would be affirmed by the nation’s highest court. I now have just a few things to say and they’ll be brief.

Again, to be clear, I’m not going to initiate a policy discussion on the ACA or its constitutional implications. I simply don’t have a broad enough base of knowledge to discuss the details of the Act intelligently. It is, however, my belief that health care should be something that is universally available to people in this country regardless of their ability to pay for it. I believe it to be a mark of shame on this nation for people to die from curable, treatable diseases because they can’t afford health services that are readily available. Despite the nonsense conservatives or tea partyers say to the contrary, that happens and it happens far too often.

I currently have health insurance under a provision of the ACA. Until I am 26, I am covered under my parents’ insurance plan. I likely wouldn’t be able to afford coverage without that provision of the law and if something were to happen to me (an accident, unforeseen illness, etc.), my family and I would be forced to pay the costs out of pocket. That, as many know far too well, is often prohibitively expensive. What’s more, in that scenario and assuming the ACA’s provision preventing denial based on pre-existing conditions was gone too, purchasing insurance when I became financially able would be much more difficult given my medical history. It should be noted that those two elements of the law are very popular.

My belief in universal healthcare stems from my progressive political ideals, which tell me that working to build a country where fewer people fall through the cracks for reasons that are beyond their ability to control is not only desirable but necessary. I believe that, as a people, we have an obligation to stand in the gap for those who can’t make it on their own. You don’t have to agree with those values, but I’m not a humanistic Nazi because I do. Holding those beliefs dear does not make me anti-American, nor does it make me un-Patriotic. And, to be forthright, people who say those kinds of things (and there are plenty of them) are idiots. It simply means that I and people like me are willing to give a little more of what we have to ensure people get the care they need. That is all.

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