Thursday, March 27, 2014

Opposition to Affordable Care Act too close to "home"

It is certainly not an easy thing being the only “liberal” in a family of right-wingers, whose attitudes are based upon the belief that if you if are poor and depend on government social programs to survive, you are just a lazy bum; fortunately for all involved, I am far away and only in regular contact with my dad. I can’t honestly say that I have not been influenced in some way by this belief, although only insofar as I learned that having money is better than not having money; I haven’t spent more than a month without regular work since I finished school, even if I had to settle for low-paying jobs.

Thus I’m not particularly sympathetic to those who spend their time at food banks and shooting the breeze in public parks or libraries, people who make their living sitting on roadsides petitioning motorists with sad-sack stories, or swellheads who live on unemployment checks waiting for that job that they feel is “worthy” of them. But there is a limit to how far my patience with such views go. I know that we live in a society where superficial considerations are at least half the determining factor in “success,” and so I know that I’ve already lost if superficial impressions are what matter; it is just that some people have much less excuse.

Anyways, I recently received a letter from my dad, and he was not happy. Apparently his health care insurer informed him that his doctor had been dropped from their network, and he and my mother had been assigned another. My dad actually informed me of his name, as if someone with an Asian moniker was supposed to have some subtle meaning I was supposed to “understand.” I understood alright, just not in the way he does. He went on to say that there were at least two people who were “very unhappy” with the Affordable Care Act, which was blamed for this. Needless-to-say, as a firm supporter of the ACA, I was not going to allow this to pass unanswered. We live in a world of haves and have-nots, and that is the way of the world as long as there are Koch brothers and right-wing lawmakers still living in the antebellum era of masters and slaves (but they sure know how to “hide” that well, don’t they?).  

My parents are retired, and naturally they are conscious of mortality that must come to everyone, especially when one approaches 80. They both have taken to religion quite seriously, and have some expectation that some afterlife awaits them. But mortal life is something that for many people is difficult to give up—especially preachers who make a good living sermonizing hell and damnation if you don’t act right (like contributing enough money to maintain their comfortable lifestyles). Frankly, the fact that the rest of my family is right-wing only sours me more on the moral and ethical value of religion. In any case, if they are on Medicare or a company retirement health plan, the ACA has little or nothing to do with their present coverage—but people with a cynical political agenda have done their best to convince them that somehow this is the case.

The uninformed attitude of far too many people concerning the ACA is based on their antipathy toward Barack Obama, and the people they believe he “represents”—the ones they consider freeloaders, mainly people they assume don’t share their “cultural values.” Being someone who some would peg as being in this group on sight, the patience I have for people who cloud their minds about why the ACA is not necessary in the long term is exactly none. I was one of those who were kicked out of their former medical plan, and am I unhappy about it? Absolutely not; if I have any reason to be unhappy about it, it is that my employer did not take advantage of the opportunity to offer the majority of its employees a decent employer plan, preferring to make us a government “problem.”  

People who have “lost” their former plans (not just their doctors) are merely uninformed about the true nature of those so-called “health” plans.  “Mini-medical” plans and the like are legal scams that in the long run are worse than having no health insurance at all, since they basically take more of your money than they give out. They offer so little coverage that you are loath to use it, and all the while the insurer improves its profit margins. When people have major medical issues, their out-of-pocket expenses are for all practical purposes what they would be paying without insurance. For these people, the ACA does exactly what is says it will do—provide good coverage at an affordable price. Even not having your “own” physician who probably barely remembers you seems to me a small price to pay for that.

It gives me no great pleasure to point these things out, but no matter how much my arguments make sense to me, they make none to my dad—which shouldn’t be surprising, since he gets his “information” from Fox News (which he insists is “fair and balanced”). No doubt he allows bigoted morons like Ann Coulter to pollute his mind. Coulter recently claimed that if Obama wasn’t black, he’d have been impeached by now. On the blog I read this on included wave after wave of offensive reader comments in agreement; I decided to add my two-bit to ruffle some feathers, reminding people that Ronald Reagan was guilty of something approaching treason by allowing his underlings to break the law in order to sell arms to a country (Iran) that we did not even have diplomatic relations with (and still don’t), and use that money to allow the Nicaraguan Contras—little more than a gang of right-wing thugs whose only interest in “freedom” was that which allowed them to pillage, rape and murder—to obtain weapons to carry out that purpose. While Republicans accuse the Obama administration of a “cover-up” in the Benghazi tragedy, the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut was a far worse security failure—and Democrats did not cynically attempt to gain political capital out of it.

I also pointed out that the Bush administration’s fabrications in convincing the country to go to war with Iraq led to the deaths of 4,000 Americans needlessly. Needless-to-say, whenever the Right is confronted with the more egregious crimes committed by their own, they can’t help but scramble for the absurd; one person insisted it was all Bill Clinton’s fault.

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