Twenty years from now, when national health care is seen to be part of the nation’s essential fabric, it will still be called “Obamacare.”
That, to me, is the big irony of the Republicans’ ever more desperate campaign to destroy national health insurance and make sure that the 30 million Americans who are not covered now, never become covered.
The real name of the law is the Affordable Care Act. It is not really the work of President Obama or, even, of Democrats. It is the legacy of Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts. It is a fairly conservative program that relies on traditional health insurance companies to provide coverage.
The only reason we call it Obamacare is that the Republicans insisted on doing so and, then, consistently lying about what it will and will not do (hint: there are no “death panels” in the law).
By linking President Barack Obama’s name to the law and by warning the republic will fall into Socialism and collapse because of it, the Republicans did succeed in making the term “Obamacare” quite unpopular with the public, even though opinion polls consistently demonstrated the public actually like what the law does.
But, here’s the thing: the Affordable Care Act is not a proposal. It is the law. It has been the law for a couple of years. Most of its provisions have now been implemented. No one has been hurt and millions of us have been helped already.
This is making the president’s opponents frantic. The House of Representatives has voted 40 times -- 40 times! -- to repeal the law or make it impossible to implement. We now have potential presidential candidates insisting they will shut down the government unless the funds needed to further implement the law are denied.
They will fail.
Next year, the Affordable Care Act will make it possible for people who are not now covered by health insurance, either because it is too expensive or because they have preexisting conditions, to purchase insurance.
States with enough compassion and intelligence to embrace the law will find all sorts of benefits associated with the fact the law will expand Medicaid coverage at no cost to the states. States, like Wisconsin, that prefer that their poor go uninsured rather than participating in the law of the land will find their health care providers saddled with sick patients who have no means to pay for their care.
But the law will be implemented. Hospitals, medical clinics, insurance companies, everyone involved in providing health care have based their long-range planning on the Affordable Care Act. It is the law.
It is going to be as important to our social fabric as Social Security and Medicare.
Twenty years from now, it will be wildly popular and will be seen as Obama’s biggest and best legacy. And it will be called “Obamacare.”
We can thank his Republican opponents for that.