Mindful of the bewildering complexity of the issues they report, the best journalists are also teachers who patiently explain the deep meanings and consequences of their findings in language literate audiences can understand.
President Obama’s devoted supporters hailed the passage of his 2010 Affordable Care Act as a legislative victory for the public over a pro-corporate Republican Party. What many of them did not and still don’t seem to know is that the measure, which will go into full effect in 2014, is another instance of government and business coming together to pick the pockets of the American people. An anonymous writer on the website of former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts explains how.
“The ACA was not selflessly designed with the intent of providing affordable and equitable medical services to those in need,” the author writes, “but rather to acquire taxpayer money for the private insurance companies under the seemingly helpful guise of health care and the ideological excuse of personal responsibility. It takes money from ordinary people and gives it to a medical insurance industry that profits handsomely from this legally-enforced corporate welfare—all while keeping Americans locked in the same broken system that puts profit before patients.”
As should be expected from a bill fashioned by lobbyists (in 2009, the health insurance industry had six lobbyists for every member of Congress), mere mortals hoping to understand how the Affordable Care Act works have to find their way through “a complex, convoluted maze of regulations and procedures.” With Americans working longer and harder than they have in previous decades, or suffering the overwhelming, mind-sapping anxiety that comes with being un- or underemployed, who has the time and sophistication to devote to such study? Aside from a few intellectual and independently wealthy oddballs, only those who are paid to, that’s who. It’s from this understanding that Roberts’ anonymous author must have written his or her explanation, which, while lengthy and demanding of some time, appears to be one of the most concise attempts to clarify in sufficient detail how the law will contribute to the already considerable “financial distress” of many Americans.
Although “a few websites” contain explanations of the law, often “very important details have either been left out or glossed over,” the author says. “These details are well worth understanding so you will know what’s at stake for you and your family.”
The author discusses the roles that the following factors play in the Affordable Care Act: 1. Modified Adjusted Gross Income, 2. tax credits, 3. the customer’s share of the insurance premium, 4. the return of tax credits to the IRS, 5. the expansion of Medicaid and estate recovery, 6. inadequate coverage in most subsidized plans, 7. penalties and 8. penalty exemptions and more.
“The way this law works is fundamentally unfair and will not bring medical care to the many,” the author explains, “but, instead will progress to greater personal debt for individuals and families who can’t afford the ‘affordable’ insurance as well as those who must keep an eye on their income to avoid the many traps and false ends this law creates. At their expense, the forced purchase of health insurance will bring increased revenue to the industry, not to mention more kickbacks to Congress, and in the very near future, the health insurance industry will be ‘too big to fail.’ ”
Rather than leading Americans to quality, low-cost health care, the Affordable Care Act was passed to enrich the executives and stockholders of the corporations that wrote it, evidence-based accounts indicate. For giving the much-needed medicine of information to his or her audience, we honor the anonymous author of Roberts’ Obamacare clarification as our Truthdigger of the Week. Read it here.
Hear Bill Moyers explain how lobbyists tanked the public option—a proposed government-run program that would have forced health insurers into competition—below.