In a signal to the not only the GOP but the conservative sock puppets on the Supreme Court, President Obama flat-out said the alternative to Obamacare is the single payer system that the right dreads more than life itself:
“There are basically two ways to cover people with preexisting conditions or assure that people can always get coverage even when they have bad illnesses,” said Obama. “One way is a single payer plan. Everybody is under a single system like Medicare. The other way is to set up the system in which you don’t have people who are healthy but don’t bother to get health insurance and then we all have to pay for them in the emergency room. That doesn’t work, and so as a consequence we’ve got to make sure that those folks are taking the responsibility seriously – which is what the individual mandate does.”
This can be taken two ways: The first is that Obama is bluffing. After taking office, Obama tackled, among a host of other serious problems, health care reform. He did not pursue the public option in any meaningful way, much to the anger of the left. It is entirely possible he will not do so this time, even if the ACA is repealed or crippled by the highly partisan conservative Supreme Court justices.
The second is that he is not bluffing at all. When Obama took office, the country was a mess. The world hated us, unemployment was skyrocketing, we were embroiled in two extremely unpopular wars and the economy was on the brink of a second Great depression. Since then, however, the economy is more stable than it has been in over a decade, we’ve ended one war with a clear course to ending the second, unemployment is steadily, if slowly, dropping and the United States is no longer a pariah. Despite what the right would have you believe, we are better off than we were four years ago. With that in mind and what looks to be a devastating victory in November for Democrats, who might not only retain a majority in the Senate but take back the House, a second Obama administration might easily have the political capital to expand Medicare to the point of universal coverage. Especially with the lessons learned over four years of GOP intransigence, the Democrats could tackle this in a far different manner that would limit Republican involvement.
By now, millions of people have benefited from even the limited version of Obamacare that is currently available and they certainly would take great offense to whatever political party were to take it away. It’s one thing to rail against “death panels” and “government takeover” when the law hasn’t had any tangible effects, it’s quite another to take away the protection that has kept you or a loved one safe and alive from the depredations of the insurance companies.
I think that if the right succeeds in repealing or crippling the Affordable Care Act, they will find a public that is unwilling to go back to the good old days of pre-existing conditions and rescession and that might just give Obama and the Democratic Party the room they need to finally bring the US into the twenty-first century.
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