The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, labeled by some opponents as “Obamacare,” has labored under a hail of controversy and misinformation since its inception. While there are naturally valid criticisms of its components, there are also many hyperbolic claims made, not by fringe opposing groups but rather, by luminaries of the opposition party. For example, in 2008, then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin captured media attention with her claim of potential “death panels” under Obamacare. In seeking to understand some common objections to Obamacare, it is necessary to remove such hyperbolic claims and to judge the facts on their own merits.
• “Obamacare is Socialized Medicine”
Under socialized medicine, the government owns and runs all hospitals, employs doctors as government employees and pays all costs. There is no provision within the 900-page PPACA that gives the government the right to seize any aspect of the healthcare industry. The government will not take over and run insurance companies, doctor’s offices or hospitals. All businesses that are currently privately owned will continue to be privately owned. Therefore, Obamacare is not “socialized medicine.” Socialized medicine does exist and has for years in the form of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as veteran’s hospitals and the government-run healthcare offered to politicians. These forms of socialized medicine will not be extended to groups that do not qualify to receive them.
• “Obamacare is a Job Killer”
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that, as a result of improved access to healthcare coverage, some 700,000 workers who are currently employed in order to maintain coverage might retire early or work less hours. This statement was cited by Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation as proof that Obamacare would cause high unemployment. However, the original statement by the CBO did not say those jobs would disappear, merely that those workers might choose to leave them. The jobs themselves would continue to exist. If anything, more people enjoying access to healthcare would increase the need for healthcare professionals, creating jobs rather than destroying them.
• “Obamacare is Unconstitutional”
The crux of this claim lay in the interplay between the 10th Amendment, which gives states the right to govern themselves free from federal mandate, and the Interstate Commerce Clause under Article 1 of the Constitution, which allows the government to regulate affairs that have an effect on interstate or international matters. In its formal ruling concerning the Constitutionality of Obamacare, the Supreme Court maintained that the government did not have the right to invoke the Commerce Clause in enforcing states to accept Obamacare. Rather, the Supreme Court maintained that Obamacare fell under the heading of a “tax,” and thus was considered to fall within the government’s right to supersede states in the matter of taxes, ruling the healthcare provision Constitutional. However, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling, some opponents continue to insist that Obamacare is unconstitutional.
• “Death Panels”
Veterans of any presidential election are aware of the incendiary claims and hyperbolic language employed by both parties in an effort to sway public opinion. The use of the term “death panels” was one such rhetorical device. In reality, such “panels” exist already and have existed since insurance companies first began providing health coverage to their clients. A doctor may prescribe a course of treatment or a series of tests, but it is ultimately under the provenance of the insurance provider as to whether they will cover the procedure or not. As Obamacare simply consists of private insurance companies covering clients as they have done for decades, there will be no new ethics panels or “death panels” deciding whether patients live or die; decisions concerning procedures remain where they have traditionally been, in the hands of insurance companies. As for seniors who actually do have government-subsidized healthcare in the form of Medicare, there is no plan afoot to deny them coverage for procedures simply because Obamacare has gone into effect; Medicare will continue to function normally.
This piece was contributed by Paul Nickerson for the team at Staff Nurse; they have information on the latest healthcare jobs available.
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