Hat tip to Nancy Pelosi for naming the fate of Republicans who voted to trash, not repair, Obamacare today. Now it is up to friends of actual affordable healthcare for Americans to reject rightwing “framing” and “narratives” and tell the American people plainly what just happened. Republicans voted for this bill without any clear idea of its cost, without any budget estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but when those numbers are released the ugly realities will become clearer. “Framing” or no framing the nasty impact of this bill, if it becomes law, will hit many millions of citizens who have benefited from coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and many more millions of their family and friends.
Regarding the “freedom” Paul Ryan and his fellow zombies say we are about to enjoy, I would ask them to let go of their childish libertarian dreams and acknowledge that they are leaders of a government that got involved in the provision of health insurance because the human toll of destitution and premature death became unacceptable.
Of course there are sometimes tradeoffs between security and liberty. In the case of health, however, most people experience health, security, and freedom as mutually reinforcing. There is a loss of freedom, perhaps, if you are forced to acknowledge that you are part of a giant risk pool when you feel fine, or that you may face a day when, if you opt out of acknowledging your membership in that risk pool otherwise known as “society,” you are going to need healthcare at any price right now, and you might not have $150,000 on hand. Oh, well, that’ll surely never happen.
Healthcare is not a “good” that can be subjected to simple free-market logic without causing massive unnecessary suffering, partly because the market for healthcare does not and cannot operate with the benefit of an essential precondition of efficient Pareto-optimal “perfect competition,” which is “perfect information.” Perfect information is sometimes almost the opposite of how the healthcare market works. Think of the market for used cars. Think of all the very imperfect information, not to say unrepentant lying, that occur during the sale of a used car. Now think of yourself as a used car and of trying to “sell” yourself to an insurance company. You tell them that you have very low mileage, excellent maintenance record, and all kinds of fibs. They squint at you and want you to pay more than you can afford. Depressing scenario, isn’t it? But it gives some idea of what the rightwing framers and narrative-spinners are going to be up against and why the majority of Americans, if polls be believed, are feeling warmer and warmer about Obamacare as they realize their safety net or plan B, or maybe just plan C, could actually be taken away.
Now it is time for Democrats and others sickened by the new regime to make those who voted to mess with the Affordable Care Act pay the price and glow in the dark next year.