It's all over but the shouting now. Yesterday President Obama signed health care reform into law, putting into place what some people consider one more plank in the platform of equality: equal access to health care. The shouting, however, continues and will continue through at least the elections at the end of this year. Most of the shouting is coming from the right-wing, though some comes from the left as well.
The biggest complaint from both the left AND the right is the so-called "unfunded mandate". The idea behind the "mandate" is that if everyone is covered, then money is saved by the elimination of taxpayer-funded emergency room care. The biggest complaint is that citizens are being forced to get coverage even if they can't afford it, and must pay a penalty if they don't. The left thinks there should be a "public option"; the right thinks the whole idea is unconstitutional.
However, I heard an interesting explanation last night that takes the winds out of both sails. Apparently, this "fee" is being assessed and collected by the IRS. What do you call a fee collected by the IRS?
So - if you get health care coverage, you essentially get a tax credit
to buy your private insurance coverage. If you don't get health care coverage, you don't get the tax break. This is not unlike other tax credits you get for certain things.
That is a FAR cry from the "unfunded mandate" we hear in certain progressive circles. As to the right-wing, they should be happy that they are getting a tax credit AND they get to keep the health care coverage they already have. Perhaps someone should explain that to them. It's not likely they'll listen though, because FAUX News won't be the ones telling them.
In the meantime, what you WILL hear is talk of repealing the bill in Congress or lawsuits against it. Repealing the bill is a pipe dream of epic proportions. It would require Republicans to gain a veto-proof majority in both the House and the Senate. That is extremely unlikely, despite their delusions about the popularity of the bill. The lawsuit approach is hypocritical coming from a party that turned "trial lawyers" into a dirty phrase, and keeps pushing for tort reform to limit what they consider to be specious lawsuits.
They are also trying to derail the "fix" package (passed by the House) in the Senate by throwing amendments at it, hoping to force a change to send it back to the House again. Sadly for them, they only have 20 hrs in which to do this - they can't filibuster this package.
Regardless - the major components are now law. There are numerous sites around describing what this bill means to most people; I'll link to just one
that comes from what I would consider a universally unbiased source. I do believe that by the time November rolls around, most people will have a more truthful understanding of what is actually in the bill, and any politicians that try to run against it will be very unpopular.
For now though, supporters of health care reform can finally exhale and enjoy the moment, while the opposers continue to vent their anger and frustration. Some people just need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.