ObamaCare is the last chance for private health insurance
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Since 2002, I’ve been a licensed Life and Health agent. For the majority of that time, my focus has been on health insurance for the senior market, Medicare supplements, prescription drug plans. I’ve spent more than a decade doing my best to match plans to my client’s needs and budget. I’ve worked for years learning all the ins and outs of our private, for-profit healthcare system, dealing with bottlenecks on both the insurance and provider side of the coin as I tried to be an effective advocate for my clients’ health.

I have been in the business long enough to see the creation of George W Bush’s Medicare Modernization Act and the implementation of Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. And now I’ve seen the transition from the Affordable Care Act’s rocky early days to the surprisingly popular and robust system that is today. It’s from this foundation of professional knowledge and experience which I’d like to address the obstructionist Republicans in Congress and in statehouses across the country, as well as “C” level executives in boardrooms at companies like Aetna, all of which seem to be involved in a coordinated attempt to sabotage the ACA and drag us back to the broken free-for-all which preceded it.

You just don’t get it.

The ACA is, at its core, a 30-year-old conservative proposal. Its roots date all the way back to Richard Nixon’s administration, who was the first to propose an employer mandate. It was expanded in the early 90’s by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which proposed the individual mandate as well as a penalty for nonparticipation and a low-income subsidy. It was embraced by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as an alternative to First Lady Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBroadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Facing challenge from Warren, Sanders touts strength against Trump MORE’s healthcare reform plan. And finally, a near carbon copy of it was signed into law in Massachusetts by Governor and future GOP Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. This is the plan which in one form or another, conservatives had been clamoring after for more than three decades.

It is based on the free market, for-profit healthcare system of both insurance companies and healthcare providers. Indeed, it has empowered them both, swelling enrollment by millions and sending their profits soaring. Even as Aetna pledged last week to drop out of the healthcare exchanges in eleven of fifteen states, citing anticipated losses, their Q2 earnings topped $780 million.

There is nothing anti-capitalist about the ACA. It works in conjunction with the free-market healthcare system which has existed here since the beginning. It is also the very last chance that system has to prove it can work.

Last November, citizens of Colorado delivered over one hundred and fifty thousand signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to create a first-of-its-kind single-payer healthcare system which would encompass all citizens of the state. If passed, it would effectively end the private, for-profit model of healthcare in an entire U.S. state. And while it may seem radical now, so too did marijuana legalization, or same sex marriage a few short years ago (both of which have my full support). In the digital age, ideas like these don’t stay contained for long, and when they catch fire, very little can be done to slow their momentum.

I am a conservative. Which is why I support the ACA and want to see it succeed. Because I believe it is a reasonable compromise which curtails the worst abuses of the for-profit system, such as pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime maximums, while encouraging people to take responsibility for addressing their own healthcare costs and stop passing costs off to everyone else through medical bankruptcy.

I worry about the expansion of government power into the private sector a single-payer system would represent. I worry about what would be an actual government takeover of some 20 percent of the economy. And I worry about the impact it may have on competition, and therefore medical and pharmaceutical innovation in our country.

Which is why I have for so many years put my full weight behind what has always been the conservative alternative. The ACA is the alternative. And if you keep encouraging the arsonists within the ranks of the GOP to burn it down, you are the ones ushering in single-payer.

The longer you oppose it, the longer GOP statehouses try to deliberately sabotage it by refusing to set up state health insurance exchanges and refuse federal money for Medicaid expansion, and the more the corporate giants find ways not to insure the most vulnerable among us, the faster they put themselves out of business. If the ACA isn’t allowed to work, the day is fast approaching when average, everyday Americans band together and demand what nearly every other industrialized, first-world nation on Earth already provides for their citizens; universal, single-payer healthcare.

Because make no mistake, the alternative the American people will accept a few years down the road will not be a return to the cruel, broken, corrupt system which existed before the ACA’s protections took effect. It will be something much more like what Colorado has proposed. It will be the adoption of healthcare not as a luxury, but as a public utility just as essential as roads, schools, or police. And there won’t be an opportunity any longer to put profit above the health of the nation’s people.

Stop kidding yourselves. You’re trying to win this race by sawing off your own foot.

Tomlinson is an author and comedian. Follow him@stealthygeek.


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