Another Point of View

There are enough problems with reform – big, obvious, scary problems – that make lying about reform unnecessary. Yet opponents continue to resort to ludicrous, unsupportable, and completely false claims about the bill, with some of the leading detractors choosing to rewrite history in an effort to scare voters and score political points.

It is NOT socialized medicine, socialized healthcare, government-controlled health care, a violation of the US Constitution, or any of the other ridiculous charges leveled by people who should be more responsible. The reform law is:

– pretty centrist – no public option, utilizing private, for-profit insurers to deliver insurance

– without price controls on providers or insurers, and with no utilization controls to speak of

– based on a very weak mandate that is more accurately described as a fine for those who decide to forgo coverage

Among the demagogues who know better is Newt Gingrich the former House Speaker is outraged, outraged I say, at the Democrats’ passage of the insurance mandate. He’s obviously had a change of heart, as a few short years ago he not only called for an enforceable mandate in a speech, he did it in two of the books he wrote.

Newt’s flip-floppery came about just yesterday, when the following dialogue took place on that fair and balanced network:

HANNITY: Do you think any of these constitutional challenges that are out there about the employer mandate, individual mandate, or any of the other challenges — do you think as they work their way through the courts, that any of that will be effective?


GINGRICH: Then you have to appeal the president’s ruling and they’d probably lose that fight. But what my sense is — first of all, I’m glad to see that some 13 attorneys general around the country —

HANNITY: Are going to sue.

GINGRICH: Have sued. Based on a 1992 Supreme Court decision which said that the federal government cannot punish you for failure to do something, I think that there’s an outside chance the suit will hold up. And that that will stop the individual mandate at the federal level.

Hmmm, seems pretty unequivocal.

here’s what Newt said just two years ago: “According to a June 11, 2008 Associated Press article (accessed from the Nexis database), which ran under the headline, “Gingrich suggests insurance mandate for those who can afford,” Gingrich reportedly “outlined his strategy to combat rising health care costs a plan of attack that includes insurance mandates for people who earn more than $75,000 a year” at a visit to a Nebraska health system. The article went on to report that “Gingrich called it ‘fundamentally immoral’ for a person who can afford insurance to save money by going without, then show up at an emergency room and demand free care. He said those who can afford insurance and choose not to buy it should be required to post bonds to pay for care they may someday need… Gingrich said everyone should have insurance, but not provided by the federal government.” [emphasis added]

(from MediaMatters)

Is he so ignorant, or so ballsy, that he doesn’t think anyone will pay attention to what he said, or wrote, a few short months ago? Or is Gingrich so driven, so insanely desperate for power, that he’ll be blown by political winds like a feather in a gale? Gingrich’s patently false statements are prima facie evidence of the depths to which right-wing opponents will descend in pursuit of power and popularity.

It’s disgusting and abhorrent behavior, and ill serves the nation.

What does this mean for you?

The new law of the land is nowhere close to perfect, or even very good; as I’ve said repeatedly I’m deeply concerned about the law’s all-but-complete failure to address costs. There’s so much misinformation circulating about health reform it is impossible to keep track of it all, much less debunk it.

When you hear Romney, or Boehner, or McConnell, or their fellow wingnuts proclaim the end of America as we know it, ignore them, or better, marvel at the lengths they will go in pursuit of the votes of the ignorant.

Editor’s Note: This was written by Joe Paduda, nationally known expert on our health care delivery system.