One of the more pervasive themes at this week’s RNC has been the call to repeal “Obamacare,” or as I prefer to call it by its actual name, the “Affordable Care Act.”
In his keynote speech on Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made two bold pronouncements about health care with which I take serious issue. First, he characterized the U.S. as having the “world’s greatest health care system.” Let’s have a quick reality check. According to the World Health Organization, the US spends more per capita than any nation in the world on health care and yet ranks 37th out of 191 countries in overall outcomes. The US is also one of the few countries in the world where getting sick can lead to financial ruin. According to one Harvard study, more than 60% of all personal bankruptcies in the US are from medical bills. What’s even more frightening? Three quarters of that 60% actually had some sort of health insurance. Does the U.S. have some of the world’s best doctors and technology? Absolutely. But while we celebrate the American health care system’s achievements, we should also acknowledge its shortcomings.
Gov. Christie then went on to say that the ACA puts “bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor,” reinforcing the erroneous assertion that the legislation is a full government takeover of health care. The last time I checked, a bureaucrat coming between me and my doctor doesn’t have to work in government. A bureaucrat can also be a paper pusher at a health insurance company who decides to deny my claim.
As the week progressed, the assault on “Obamacare” continued.
In his primetime speech on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul reiterated his belief that the ACA is unconstitutional. Following Sen. Paul on stage was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who said the ACA is an attack on religious freedom and makes people of faith “bow their knees to the god of government.” He also kept repeating the phrase “we can do better.”
Next came Paul Ryan, who characterized the ACA as an “all or nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care,” to be paid for on the backs of the elderly. A few years ago, the GOP said “Obamacare” would create death panels. But if we believe Paul Ryan, President Obama apparently now wants to push granny off a cliff.
The last chance for clarity on the Republican position on health care reform came late Thursday night during Mitt Romney’s nomination acceptance speech. But instead, the speech was one of generalities. Romney understandably seized the opportunity to connect with his audience on a more personal level than talk about policy. He alluded to rising health insurance premiums, but never addressed how he would fix the problem other than by repealing “Obamacare”—a plan nearly identical to the one he passed while Governor of Massachusetts.
As the campaign slugfest continues through November, I’m not holding my breath for any straight talk on health care. Instead, we should all brace ourselves for more rhetoric on the evils of socialized medicine and throwing our seniors under the bus…literally and figuratively.
You’re right Gov. Huckabee. We can do better. And we deserve better too.