Obamacare: In the Beginning (an ongoing eight-part series)

July 18, 2012

Ongoing educational series in eight parts for Illinois Review by Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill on Obamacare with two articles posted per week at IR, Tuesday and Friday.  Jane Keill worked in the insurance industry before retirement. 

 Obamacare:  In the Beginning

The Supreme Court has just handed down its final ruling on the Affordable CareAct (ACA). Most of us are not pleased with the Obamacare decision that in 2014 will begin to dictate the type of health care that it prescribes for the American people in years to follow.

At the same time those of us who reject Obamacare, H.R. 3962, are left to ponder what else is hidden within the 2,000+ pages of the Affordable Healthcare bill signed on March 23, 2010, that will surely paint an even grimmer picture of Obamacare than what we already know is in store for us.    

In order to understand where President Obama stood over the years on the issue of national health care, it is necessary to back track in time.  It comes as no surprise that the goal of the Democrat Party has always been a single-payer system for the United States in what has been a steady march toward that goal.

An attempt was made by FDR to include compulsory health insurance in his Social Security Bill of 1935, but because the inclusion of health insurance in the bill was opposed by the AMA and threatened the passage of FDR’s entire Social Security legislation, it was excluded.

Universal health care has always been part of Obama’s belief system, despite public denials to the contrary, as can be ascertained through statements made by Barack Obama when serving as an Illinois Senator.

On March 24, 2007, at the SEIU’s New Leadership Health Care Forum, Obama had this to say: 

“My commitment is to make sure that we have universal healthcare for all Americans by the end of my first term as President.” 

“As I indicated before, I think that we’re going to have to have some system where people can buy into a larger pool. Right now their pool typically is the employer, but there are other ways of doing it. I would like to — I would hope that we could set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort. But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out where we’ve got a much more portable system. Employers still have the option of providing coverage, but many people may find that they get better coverage, or at least coverage that gives them more for health care dollars than they spend outside of their employer. And I think we’ve got to facilitate that and let individuals make that choice to transition out of employer coverage.”

On Sept. 12, 2008, while on the Presidential campaign trail in Dover, N.H., and in many more speeches, Obama said:

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Obama had this to say in an address to the annual meeting of the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009 when he made this sweeping pledge for patients:

“No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: fix what’s broken and build on what works.”

To the AFL-CIO Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Conference in July of 2009:

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal healthcare plan…That’s what I’d like to see.”

In this spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos of ABC on September 20, 2009, President Obama refused to accept the argument that a mandate to buy health insurance was equivalent to a tax:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were against the individual mandate…

OBAMA: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: …during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

OBAMA: Well, hold on a second, George. Here — here’s what’s happening. You and I are both paying $900, on average — our families — in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now what I’ve said is that if you can’t afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn’t be punished for that. That’s just piling on. If, on the other hand, we’re giving tax credits, we’ve set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we’ve driven down the costs, we’ve done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you’ve just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances. And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that’s it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.

OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy…

OBAMA: No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase. Any…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here’s the…

OBAMA: What — what — if I — if I say that right now your premiums are going to be going up by 5 or 8 or 10 percent next year and you say well, that’s not a tax increase; but, on the other hand, if I say that I don’t want to have to pay for you not carrying coverage even after I give you tax credits that make it affordable, then…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax — “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…

OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.”

One thing that those who pay attention to Obama’s words are fully aware of is that Obama’s rhetoric is deceitful. Not to mince words and in less polite words, he lies!

President Obama will tell you what you wish to hear using language ambiguous enough so it will seemingly sound like a personal message directed to you. He’ll say it in lovely tones and language. Speaking dramatically, he’ll promise you anything in the belief that you will not remember what he promised later on.

But finally Obama is being caught in his own lies by more and more Americans, trapped by his promises and being exposed as a hack politician, which, after all, he is!

In closing, the following unforgettable quip is one with which you are no doubt familiar.  In March, 2010, in remarks about the new Obamacare bill to the Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said:

“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

In future commentaries, we’ll go into some of the specifics of the Affordable Care Act, exploring more fully why so many Americans dislike the plan, don’t want it, and are afraid of it, as we should all be.

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