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Reich writes: "Whatever happened to American can-do optimism? Even before the Affordable Care Act covers its first beneficiary, the nattering nabobs of negativism are out in full force."

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)


Don't Succumb to Defeatism About the Affordable Care Act

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

28 December 13

 

hatever happened to American can-do optimism? Even before the Affordable Care Act covers its first beneficiary, the nattering nabobs of negativism are out in full force.

"Tens of millions more Americans will lose their coverage and find that new ObamaCare plans have higher premiums, larger deductibles, and fewer doctors," predicts Republican operative Karl Rove. "Enrollment numbers will be smaller than projected and budget outlays will be higher."

Rove is joined by a chorus of conservative Cassandra's, from Fox News to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, all warning that the new law will be a disaster.

Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, anticipates a shortage of doctors. "There just aren't going to be enough of them."

Professor John Cochrane of the University of Chicago predicts the individual mandate will "unravel" when "we see how sick the people are who signed up on exchanges, and if our government really is going to penalize voters for not buying health insurance."

The round-the-clock nay-saying is having an effect. Support for the law has plummeted to 35 percent of those questioned in a recent CNN poll, a 5-point drop in less than a month. Sixty-two percent now say they oppose the law, up four points from November.

Even liberal-leaning commentators are openly worrying. On ABC's "This Week," Cokie Roberts responded to my view that the law eventually would prove popular by warning of "a whole other wave of reaction against it" if employers start dropping their insurance.

Some congressional Democrats are getting cold feet. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin recently fretted that "if it's so much more expensive than what we anticipated and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you've got a complete meltdown."

Get a grip.

If the past is any guide, some fixes will probably be necessary - but so what? Our current healthcare system is the real disaster - the most expensive and least effective among all developed countries, according Bloomberg's recent ranking. We'd be collectively insane if we didn't try to overhaul it.

But we won't get it perfect immediately. What needs fixing can be fixed. And over time we can learn how to do it better.

If enrollments are lower than anticipated, the proper response is to keep at it until larger numbers are enrolled. CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, got off to a slow start in 1998. The Congressional Research Service reported "general disappointment ... with low enrollment rates early in the program." CHIP didn't reach its target level of enrollment for five years. Now it enrolls nearly ninety percent of all eligible children.

Richard Nixon's Supplemental Security Income program of 1974 - designed to standardize welfare benefits to the poor - was widely scorned at the time, and many states were reluctant to sign up. Even two years after its launch, only about half of eligible recipients had enrolled. Today, more than 8 million Americans are covered.

If mistakes are made implementing the Affordable Care Act, the appropriate response is to fix them. When George W. Bush's Medicare Part D drug benefit was launched, large numbers of low-income seniors had to be switched from Medicaid. Many needed their prescriptions filled before the switch had been completed, causing loud complaints. The website for the plan initially malfunctioned. Pharmacies got the wrong information. Other complications led even Republican Representative John Boehner to call it "horrendous." But the transition was managed, and Medicare Part D is now a firm fixture in the Medicare firmament.

If young people don't sign up for the Affordable Care Act in sufficient numbers and costs rise too fast, other ways can be found to encourage their enrollment and control costs. If there aren't enough doctors initially, medical staffs can be utilized more efficiently. If employers begin to drop their own insurance, incentives can be altered so they don't.

Why be defeatist before we begin? Even Social Security - the most popular of all government programs - had problems when it was launched in 1935. A full year later, Alf Landon, the Republican presidential candidate, called it "a fraud on the workingman." Former President Herbert Hoover said it would imprison the elderly in the equivalent of "a national zoo." Americans were slow to sign up. Not until the 1970s did Social Security cover most working-age Americans.

As Alexis de Tocqueville recognized as early as the 1830s, what distinguishes America is our pragmatism, resilience, and optimism. We invent, experiment, and fix what has to be fixed.

Of course there will be problems implementing the Affordable Care Act. But if we're determined to create a system that's cheaper and more effective at keeping Americans healthy than the one we have now - and, in truth, we have no choice - we have every chance of succeeding.



Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

 

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+29 # fredboy 2013-12-28 09:35
Robert, one challenge has been the Obama team's unwillingness or inability to continually frame and sell the program through vignettes--brie f, touching stories about people it is helping. Instead, they simply belch wonk, or nothing at all.
 
 
+41 # DrD 2013-12-28 10:20
Fredboy/Robert,
I agree. The coverage for those 26- years old and under has already saved lives. My cousin's 25-year old son was laid off from his job so no health care. Once this provision of ACA kicked in, he went to doctor and found out he had testicular cancer. After successful surgery, he is alive and well. My sister wrote their state representative about it to urge acceptance of ACA. More work by Obama administration to advertise these successes would go a long way to changing minds (at least I hope).
 
 
+2 # PGreen 2013-12-29 16:56
The ACA may well be better than the failing hodgepodge of insurance plans that have preceded it. I'm honestly not sure. It is better to have some coverage than none. But I don't think the ACA is a good system.

Our efforts should go into creating better universal healthcare by reforming and eventually replacing the ACA with something better--whether the ACA should prove marginally successful or not. Cost containment is the obsession of the corporate honchos, but the public focus needs to be affordability and significant coverage. For this I think we need a single-payer, medicare-for-al l type system.

Should the ACA fail--and I don't think this would be a thing to cheer about, as it would bring misery to many--then we need to replace it with something better. There will be a huge push by oligarchical interests to dismiss universal healthcare coverage in favor of only elite coverage. We, the public must say loudly that this is unacceptable, and make it clear that we want a workable, universal system in place. A failure of the ACA must energize us to push for single-payer, and ignore the protestations of those who say it is "politically unworkable-- for the alternative will have proven just as unworkable.

Should the ACA succeed, then we must continue to improve it.
 
 
+1 # Barbara K 2013-12-30 21:12
I'm so glad to see stories on TV and on the internet about how the ACA has helped people who could not get insurance in the past. Some are now covered for the first time in their lives. I also see just about every day on MSNBC and online about how each part works, including, how to sign up. Now if people just pay attention, they can learn a lot about it. It will end up working just fine. We just need to stop listening to those who want it to fail and make up all kinds of lies about it. To sort it out, just consider the source of what you are being told. It takes time to get a new program up and operating smoothly, especially when there is a faction voting over 40 times to stop us from having insurance. How selfish of these GOPigs to take health care for themselves and think we don't deserve health care. They really need to move on to doing something that will actually help us and stop dragging our economy down. I just heard and saw in the news that they are doubling down to stop EVERYTHING from being passed.VOTE THESE IDIOTS OUT NEXT NOVEMBER, we need someone who wants to help us, not make our lives more miserable. They need to work more than 120 days next year too; or we should be paying them for only the 120 days they plan to work. We wouldn't get paid for the days we don't work.
GET OUT AND VOTE NEXT NOVEMBER, WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

.
 
 
-9 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-12-28 10:56
Wrong!! The problem is that the plan is an obomanation! It is great for the the insurance companies, but still leaves us with ever increasing costs for all of us and leaves many without any health care. Get the for profit organizations out of the mix!! If you are sick you sure as hell need a doctor and not an insurance agent! This is just annother example of how the Democrats do a better job of tricking us than do the Republicans---b ut their goal is the same--help the rich get richer and piss on us.

SINGLE PAYER! MEDICARE FOR ALL. Get rid of Nancy Peelosi and put this 'on the table' for Congress to vote.
 
 
+31 # Rain17 2013-12-28 11:17
As someone who lost a relative to not having insurance the ACA would have arguably saved her life. It would have enabled her to get coverage. As much as I wanted single-payer let's get real. The votes were not there for it in 2009-2010 and they were not going to be there. That the ACA passed is a miracle. And for millions of Americans, had the ACA not passed, it would have been a death sentence for them.

I want single-payer, but we also have to be honest that it is right now politically a nonstarter for the reasons I've often stated over and over again in threads here. If single-payer is to become a reality a significant decades-long messaging campaign is going to have to occur. American attitudes toward the government are going to have to significantly change.

The ACA clearly has its weaknesses. I won't disagree with you on that point, but it offers hope to millions who would otherwise have no access to care at all. It will save some peoples' lives. And they don't have the luxury of waiting another 20-30 years for the perfect system to come, if it ever comes at all.
 
 
+7 # tclose 2013-12-28 13:37
Well said, Rain17. You make some excellent points.
 
 
+8 # Rain17 2013-12-28 17:31
Thanks. I appreciate it. The problem here is that the public option, let alone single-payer, is a nonstarter politically. If single-payer is ever to happen a significant, multi-pronged campaign is going to have to occur. It would involve:

1) Creating organizations whose sole mission is persuasion. These groups would be out there advocating for single-payer nonstop.
2) Creating think-tanks and experts who can at the drop of a hat and appear on TV and effectively argue for single-payer.
3) Publishing and presenting studies showing the benefits of such a system.
4) Getting measures on the ballots of states that allow it that support single-payer
5) Working extensively at the local level and in progressive states to elect politicians who support single-payer
6) Implementing single-payer at the very local level

If an organized effort did what I outlined above, in maybe 10-20 years, single-payer might be politically viable. Unfortunately it's going to take a long-term effort to make it a reality here.
 
 
+4 # Quickmatch 2013-12-28 11:40
And, without a shred of a question, the vote will be NO! Unless there is a majority of solid left Democrats in both houses, which is apparently not about to happen: because the moderate right has not yet had its fill of tea party absolutism; because the far left absolutism will not support more centrist Democrats who are not shilling for Medicare-For-Al l (in order to keep their seats in sensitive districts)but instead support far-left candidates who do not have enough support to win a primary, let alone a seat in the general election. (Hint, hint: Pelosi is not speaker anymore, and realized there was not enough support for single-payer when she was. Buy a clue.)
 
 
+7 # Rain17 2013-12-28 17:32
You're right. See the post that I wrote above. The problem here is that, if we are ever to get single-payer, American attitudes toward the government are going to have to change significantly. It's going to a multi-pronged campaign to make it a reality and it will take many years. But the groundwork has to start somewhere.
 
 
+10 # Rain17 2013-12-28 11:14
But this is one trait that is common to most liberals. For whatever reason the left is just incapable at effective messaging and leveraging the media effectively. This has been an ongoing problem that has existed for decades.
 
 
+31 # Barbara K 2013-12-28 09:51
I'm so glad to see stories on TV and on the internet about how the ACA has helped people who could not get insurance in the past. Some are now covered for the first time in their lives. I also see just about every day on MSNBC and online about how each part works, including, how to sign up. Now if people just pay attention, they can learn a lot about it. It will end up working just fine. We just need to stop listening to those who want it to fail and make up all kinds of lies about it. To sort it out, just consider the source of what you are being told. It takes time to get a new program up and operating smoothly, especially when there is a faction voting over 40 times to stop us from having insurance. How selfish of these GOPigs to take health care for themselves and think we don't deserve health care. They really need to move on to doing something that will actually help us and stop dragging our economy down. I just heard and saw in the news that they are doubling down to stop EVERYTHING from being passed.VOTE THESE IDIOTS OUT NEXT NOVEMBER, we need someone who wants to help us, not make our lives more miserable. They need to work more than 120 days next year too; or we should be paying them for only the 120 days they plan to work. We wouldn't get paid for the days we don't work.
GET OUT AND VOTE NEXT NOVEMBER, WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

.
 
 
-15 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-12-28 11:05
Get out and vote but NOT for any Democrat or Republican. Can't you drop your team membership in either of these corrupt corporately funded political parties? Vote---but NO D and NO R! There is no lesser evil between these two corporate twins. If the lesser evil wins---whatta ya got? EVIL.
 
 
+22 # Rain17 2013-12-28 11:18
It's so great to demand that, but there are many Americans who can't afford the luxury of throwing their votes away. And more importantly to the winner goes all the judicial appointments. And frankly, as a gay American, I'm not going to help the GOP become elected just because the Democratic candidate falls short of the politically impossible litmus tests that many people on this board have.
 
 
+2 # suzyskier 2013-12-28 21:27
It would be a great idea but it won't work at least not now. You would need a 3rd political party that is established enought to get the majority of votes. All that would happen now would a repeat of what happened when in 2000 Nader took votes away from Gore. (Although Gore actually did win but I won't go there just now)
 
 
+18 # tswhiskers 2013-12-28 10:22
Karl Rove is no Cassandra. Her gift of prophecy was cursed by Apollo who said her prophecies would be correct but no one would believe them. It seems instead that more are believing the Reps. all the time, even as more people successfully sign up for health insurance. But since the ACA is now law we can only wait for the websites to improve and for more people to rejoice in having affordable health insurance for the first time. My biggest hope is that the networks and other media will continue to speak out to correct the lies of the conservative media so strongly that at least some Americans will stop listening to Fox et al. Of course, there will always be those diehards who refuse to listen to sense and insist that they are victims of Obamacare.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-01-02 10:00
Since Rupert Murdoch (a uber neo-con) controls over 90% of the media outlets in this country, the possibility of the "truth" getting out to the public is nil.
 
 
+22 # D12345 2013-12-28 10:28
Not bad from Reich, the historical information is little-known and valuable perspective..bu t this endless bs about "America."

"what distinguishes America is our pragmatism, resilience, and optimism. We invent, experiment, and fix what has to be fixed."

This cites De Toqueville in the 1830's. A society whose entire existence was based on genocide and slavery. Right now what distinguishes America is military presence in every corner of the globe, and exploitation of workers and resources in every 3rd world nation.

Why not say what distinguishes HUMAN BEINGS is pragmatism, resilience, etc.

This God bless America garbage is bad enough coming from the right wing. That people like Reich and Obama drape themselves in it is a disgrace.
 
 
+8 # Rain17 2013-12-28 11:19
What you and others on the far left don't get--and refuse to realize--is that a message that either implies or states directly that "America sucks" is politically a nonstarter. "America sucks" isn't going to win you elections.
 
 
+10 # D12345 2013-12-28 11:29
@Rain17—I'm afraid you are missing the point. It is not that "America sucks." It is that this Americans are special and great etc is wrong and harmful.
My point was that human beings are (or have the capacity to be) great.
The best thing about the left in years past was the emphasis on people everywhere ....as opposed to USA! USA!
That kind of nationalism is a hallmark of the right. It has been used to justify the worst crimes ...not only by US but by dominant nations across the globe.
Considering how much worse US health care is in many ways than most of the world, it is a strange time for Reich to be trumpeting how Americans are special and great.
He is trying to win over a certain segment of the population. But they know the difference. They want to hear it from Rush and Reagan. Not Reich and Obama.
 
 
+3 # tgemberl 2013-12-28 17:17
D12345,
You make some good points, but I don't think it's wise to oppose American nationalism completely. There are so many on the left who are still trying to fight the battles of the Cold War, and that's not productive. It's over. It's better that communism ended. And there were some good things about Ronald Reagan: when he stood at the Berlin Wall and said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" you can't help but cheer.

However, I don't believe his actions were primarily responsible for the fall of communism. It collapsed from within. Its crumbling was visible in Poland during the Solidarity Strike before Reagan was ever in office.

The point I'm trying to make is that there were good things about the 80's. In some places, at least, freedom really was breaking out in the world. Look, the Sandinistas won power in Nicaragua and then let themselves be voted out of office! That's an epochal thing that would not have been seen before.

The problem with Reagan was really the flip side of his strength: he believed so strongly in our system--was so "nationalistic, " as you put it--that he thought it was something magical. He imagined that cutting taxes and cutting regulation would have a magical effect that never happened.

If we persist in fighting the battles of the Cold War, we will never win over many people to progressive ideas. Not unless America collapses completely, which is possible. But I hope that doesnt' have to happen.
 
 
+1 # Rain17 2013-12-28 17:36
Again you're not going to win many elections by either implying or stating directly that "America sucks". It just isn't going to work, no matter how much you and others here thing otherwise. Trashing America is not going to get people to accept your position.

You're right that the American healthcare system has its issues. And you're not that America isn't the "best" in everything, but I'm still proud to be an American. I think there are still good things associated with our country.

America hasn't been perfect, but I think it's a great country to live in. Compared to many other third-world countries, where people live in extreme poverty or where disagreeing with the government automatically lands you in prison, we have it pretty good here. That's not to say there isn't poverty or that problems don't exist, but we could live in a place like North Korea.
 
 
+4 # D12345 2013-12-28 19:38
Somehow, you persist in the idea that pointing out the great crimes that America has committed and continues to commit is the equivalent of saying "America sucks."

The United States was built on genocide and slavery. That is a fact. It has nothing to do with saying "America sucks." It also ushered in some very important elements of representative democracy and personal liberty.

You mention the extreme poverty of the 3rd world. A main cause of that poverty is the colonial rule of the Europeans and then the economic exploitation by the US. One of the main reasons we "have it pretty good here" as you say, is the brutal exploitation of the peoples of the 3rd world. Who puts those clothes and computers together? And who reaps the billions in profits? Not the countries where the work is being done.

It is strange to compare the US favorably to the 3rd world, considering role the US has plays and continues to play in those countries.

There is a long and sorry history of democratically elected governments overthrown by the US. Observe Chile, Guatemala, Iran and Iraq to name a few.

This is the dominant military power in the world. More prisoners here than anywhere, solitary confinement for years for minor offenses. Drug users imprisoned in brutal conditions.

Many of us do have it "pretty good." But that comfort is built on a scaffolding of exploitation and cruelty.

Not to say that this doesn't go on elsewhere also. That is the point!
 
 
+1 # Rain17 2013-12-28 21:51
And the US is hardly the only country in the world "that was built on genocide and slavery". I am sure, that if you looked into the history of almost EVERY OTHER COUNTRY, you would find evidence of similar injustices. America is hardly alone in that regard.

But I go back to my original point. "America sucks" is a losing political message.
 
 
+4 # tgemberl 2013-12-29 11:55
America's greatest contribution to world civilization was really the separation of church and state. I don't believe that had been implemented fully before.

Our constitution was good, I think, until about the time of World War II. Since then, we have fallen behind Europe and Canada constitutionall y. Our constitution has a number of archaic elements like the Electoral College and the Second Amendment that are too hard to remove.

It's interesting that France has had about 5 constitutions in the time we've had one. I believe constitutional changes generally happened after France suffered some terrible defeat or collapse of some kind. I wonder if we might have to face something like that ourselves. As long as people can convince themselves their system is working, they're unwilling to make fundamental changes. It's like the Alcoholics Anonymous idea of "hitting bottom": people don't change sometimes till their lives fall apart. I hope we don't have to go through that.
 
 
+28 # fredboy 2013-12-28 10:54
It all comes down to whether we are a people who want all people to have access to healthcare and lifesaving help, or whether we are a people who don't.

Before it was passed, I recall meeting a very nice Brit and his wife at a local beach. He spoke of how much he loves visiting the U.S., and I asked if he'd considered moving here.

"Oh no," he said, his eyes dropping. "I could never live in a nation where people let other die without helping them."

Let's celebrate our collective care and empathy. And oppose those who care not for for the well being of others.
 
 
+18 # reiverpacific 2013-12-28 10:58
SABOTAGE has been my worry all along about any attempt to make any kind of humane and populist changes to the most disgraceful, antediluvian medical non-system in the industrialized world (not "civilized" -the US hasn't made it there yet and appears to be sliding backwards).
I feared a lynching of this kind from the predictable suspects listed by Dr. Reich and many here, especially the finks in Congress and some Senators who would deny those who put them there to seemingly do nothing but feudalize the country, even a little of the four-star private coverage they get and we pay for.
Sadly, the press are as culpable as they -and that includes PBS- in ringing the chimes of doom.
Can you imagine the howls, screams and reactionary attack-dog pollution of OUR airwaves from these bought and paid for retrogrades if and when there is an attempt to get Universal, Single Payer care going?
"Whatever happened to American can-do optimism?" (quote). Again, often my sad reflection from when I came here in and out a few times in the 1970's then worked here and around the world and anything seemed possible. I was horrified by the for-profit system then and have remained so ever since; it's my principal reason for never becoming a citizen but even the for-profit health care premiums seemed almost affordable then coming with a deduction from a paycheck -but no longer. Well, I can pinpoint it to Reagan's election and the same reactionary forces have swallowed up the country since then.
 
 
+13 # Rich Austin 2013-12-28 11:27
Robert –

Why conflate refusal to accept a plan written by the medical-profits industry with defeat?

The ACA isn’t anywhere near the best we can do. Saying so is defeatism!

If we the people want health care justice we’ll demand it. We’ll demand enactment of HR 676, “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All”.

Here is a problem. People holding responsible positions get lots of press. They also lie about single payer, the ACA, and free market health care. The media is aiding and abetting their malarkey. Main Street gets confused by lies. (It should be against the law for politicos to lie to voters. Ditto corporatists and the press. Leave the lying to bimbos like O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hanitty, etc. They are quite adept at it.)

During his run against John McCain, President Obama used the term, “lipstick on a pig”. ACA is a pig. It is much less than what we need. Defeatists would nonetheless try to cover it in lip rouge.

We can do much better. We must demand single payer. Let’s not accept defeat.
 
 
+4 # Rain17 2013-12-28 17:42
That's all great that you want single-payer, but that the ACA even passed is a miracle because, up until then, Presidents of both parties had tried to enact universal healthcare only to have failed. And if Obama had failed no President would have tried it for another 15-20 years.

The bottom line is that, while the ACA falls short of bringing forth universal healthcare, at the very least, it curbs the worst abuses of the US healthcare system. It offers hope to millions of Americans who would otherwise have no access to any healthcare at all. For many Americans that the ACA passed was a matter of life and death. Had it failed it would have been a death sentence for many Americans. At they very least the ACA brings some humanity to the horror that is the US healthcare system.

I supported and wanted single-payer, but the votes were not there for it in 2009 and 2010; and, despite what some people here think, they were not going to be there. If single-payer is ever to become a reality, as I've stated in threads here about healthcare millions of times, American attitudes toward government are going to have to significantly change. It will take a long-term messaging campaign to make it a reality.

I agree that the ACA is far from perfect, but it will save the lives of some people who would otherwise die. They don't have the luxury of waiting another 15-20 for the perfect to come around, if it ever comes at all.
 
 
-23 # lnason@umassd.edu 2013-12-28 12:55
With close to 15 million people having lost their health care insurance already and with another 50 million or so due to lose it next year, how anyone can declare the PPACA to be a success is quite beyond me.

I thought that the goal was to get more people health care but the result of the legislation to date is to reduce dramatically the number of people who will get health care. In addition, costs are rising (in all but 5 states), high-quality providers are mostly not in the exchanges, many medications are not covered, and heaven forbid you travel and get sick -- you will not be covered under most plans.

And Medicare, which I am forced to accept and pay for, really sucks. Since I am healthy (though old and infirm), they have never paid a penny for me but I am forced (with the help of my former employer) to pay about $2000 a month, now, under the PPACA, increasing to $2,500 a month for the privilege of having a Medicare card. It's a ripoff done for the benefit of and in collusion with insurers and the AARP and a few others who will financially benefit from the law.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+14 # Nell H 2013-12-28 15:00
First, you are not eligible for the ACA. Nobody on Medicare can sign up for the ACA.

Secondly, nobody pays anywhere near the amount per month that you claim you are paying for government Medicare.

You need to find out a few facts before spreading all this misinformation.
 
 
+1 # HowardMH 2013-12-30 10:36
Nell H, Inason has a pre-existing condition. It is called Stupid, and there is probably nothing you can say or do that can fix it.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-01-02 10:06
Nell H has a pre-existing condition called teabagism. Which means he can't help but spread lies.
 
 
+12 # mdhome 2013-12-28 15:37
That sounds rather far fetched, for medicare I pay $109/month. I have never heard of an insurance policy of $2500 a month!
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2013-12-29 11:48
Quoting lnason@umassd.edu:
With close to 15 million people having lost their health care insurance already and with another 50 million or so due to lose it next year, how anyone can declare the PPACA to be a success is quite beyond me.

I thought that the goal was to get more people health care but the result of the legislation to date is to reduce dramatically the number of people who will get health care. In addition, costs are rising (in all but 5 states), high-quality providers are mostly not in the exchanges, many medications are not covered, and heaven forbid you travel and get sick -- you will not be covered under most plans.

And Medicare, which I am forced to accept and pay for, really sucks. Since I am healthy (though old and infirm), they have never paid a penny for me but I am forced (with the help of my former employer) to pay about $2000 a month, now, under the PPACA, increasing to $2,500 a month for the privilege of having a Medicare card. It's a ripoff done for the benefit of and in collusion with insurers and the AARP and a few others who will financially benefit from the law.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts


What a load of bollocks! You must have an exagger-o meter hooked to y'r computer.
My Medicare card which included Part A, cost me bugger-all and part B is $100+ a month. The ACA is goin' to help me pay for part B and get my wife and I on the Oregon Health Plan formerly for the poor, by vastly increased income eligibility.
 
 
-11 # Jingze 2013-12-28 13:20
The ACA is a mess. It is costing me and my wife more, maybe forcing us to move to someplace less expensive than Massachusetts. It is such a terrible act that it has probably given the entire congress over to the right-wing republicans, who will quickly dispose of it along with a few more of our civil liberties.
 
 
+18 # Rich Austin 2013-12-28 13:49
Lee Nason –

Part of your message does not compute. Medicare pays for about 80% of most medically-neces sary procedures. It also has stop-loss provisions. If you’re 65 you should be using it. And it doesn’t suck. Prior to Medicare almost 50% of the seniors in this county lacked any medical coverage. Now, virtually all seniors 65 or older are covered by Medicare. The highest possible Medicare premium is $335.70 per month. That’s for someone with an annual income of $214,000 or more.

You wrote, “$2,500 a month for the privilege of having a Medicare card”? Absolutely not so. 46 million seniors will tell you otherwise.

While the PPACA is, in my opinion lipstick on a pig, exaggerating its deficiencies adds nothing to the goal of achieving true health care justice. According to your numbers, 65 million people will lose health insurance because of it. That is preposterous.

You did get at least one thing right: AARP is a shill for big insurance companies. It makes more money selling its brand name to gouging insurers like United Health than it does from membership dues. And its CEOs are paid over $1 million annually + perks.

Go to http://www.healthcare-now.org/ for the straight dope on single payer, i.e., “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All”.
 
 
+11 # stoher9 2013-12-28 14:44
If you live in Massachusetts, then the ACA shouldn't effect you at all. The ACA is based on the Mass law & the only provisions that were changed had to do with the mandates for individuals & businesses. These were lowered to comply with the federal law. As the Mass law has been in effect since 2006 you should be seeing no changes if you were already in the Mass system.
 
 
+12 # Nell H 2013-12-28 14:55
Anything President Obama supports is bad-mouthed by the Republicans. It doesn't matter what it is, they bad-mouth it. I think they would call their own mother ugly if President Obama said she was pretty.

The only reason polls show Americans don't like the ACA is that most of the TV media bad-mouth it -- and they do so with no understanding whatsoever of what the ACA does.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-01-02 10:09
Oh, but they do know what the ACA is all about. They are being paid by the neo-cons to discredit it, thus discrediting President Obama.
 
 
+8 # mdhome 2013-12-28 15:34
Conservatives, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, are all the same thing, all working for the destruction of democracy.
 
 
+5 # ganymede 2013-12-28 21:40
Thank you Prof Reich for your calm well-informed, as usual, information. I'm really startled by the cynicism and negativity of much of the left criticism on this blog and the incredible amount of misinformation from some fact-challenged and outright lying of some of the comments. Obama will go down in history as the person who at least opened the door on the health care travesty this country, and only this country, has been living under for many decades. We will probably have Medicare for all in 2-3 years because it is the only logical way out of this mess. Healthcare based on profit will never, and can never work for obvious reasons. The Republican/Tea Party is on the ropes. The Tea Party was always an over-hyped group heavily funded by the worst elements of our kleptocracy and, despite all the money, they have not gained any traction. All they can shout is Benghazi, gun confiscation, Obama's the most evil President ever, etc, and their constant attempts to bring down the government aren't working. The public's not buying this nonsense, and the internecine warfare going on between the Tea Party and the Republican Party will insure their defeat in 2014 and 2016. Yes, the Democrats are almost as bad, but there are a few dozen real, live human beings amongst them who are getting stronger, and a left-populism is beginning to stir. Buck up, my liberal progressive comrades, we are going to triumph, and beat these misguided fools.
 
 
+3 # hattie12KY 2013-12-29 12:30
I appreciate Prof Reich's call to remain calm and reasonable re the ACA, but I do expect the economist in him to constantly remind us that we would all be better off with single payer. Please explore the research of UMass-Amherst professor, Gerald Friedman, whose financial analysis of HR 676, The Improved Medicare for All Act shows that"upgrading the nation’s Medicare program and expanding it to cover people of all ages would yield over a half-trillion dollars in efficiency savings in its first year of operation, enough to pay for high-quality, comprehensive health benefits for all residents of the United States at a lower cost to most individuals, families and businesses." Go to PNHP.org to get more info. HR 676 would be a cost-effective, humane and simple solution to the boondoggle we are now in.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-01-02 10:11
I believe most of us are in agreement that a single-payer system is what we all want. However, given the power of the neo-cons, we have to inch forward towards our goal, step by step. Expecting to be opposed and thwarted each step of the way by the 1%erts.
 

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