As the U.S. government enters week two of its shutdown, America's primary source of information, its beloved lat night comedians, have pointed out some of the buffoonery that's driving the debate, specifically in regards of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA, or "Obamacare" if you like, was the lightening rod for the shutdown, with many in Congress demanding that if Barack Obama wanted to keep the government open, then he had to defund/repeal/stall the implementation of his signature piece of legislation.
The intent of the ACA was to make it easier for the some 60 million people in the United States who have no health insurance to get covered. Through expansions to medicare, making it illegal for insurers to drop customers for "pre-existing conditions," allowances for children as old as 26 to stay on their parents' health plans, and making it easier and more affordable for Americans to buy into health insurance through minimum standards and an exchange through which to compare rates, the ACA was the first real reformation of America's healthcare system in decades. Naturally, this cannot be allowed, and more than a few American politicians have let hyperbole run amok and call the ACA the worst thing to happen to America since slavery and other gross exaggerations.
But despite the loft ideals of the ACA, the term "Obamacare" is politically difficult, and in poll after poll, though people like the individual contents of the ACA, the majority claim a dislike for this boogeyman called "Obamacare." Following up on this idea, the gang at Jimmy Kimmel Live did a streeter last week, where they asked people what they liked more: Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, on last weekend's Real Time with Bill Maher, a video by filmmaker (and daughter of Congressional Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) Alexandra Pelosi was screened chronicling her efforts to find out what people had to say about the ACA in New York City. There, in what's called "the centre of the media universe," Pelosi found several drastically uninformed citizens who believed that Obamacare meant any number of things, from putting a chip in your arm to track you, to the now-seemingly quaint idea of "death panels." So basically, they mentioned everything that the ACA is not.
Lest you think this is a cheer-section for Obama, two things: First, the nature and benefits of the ACA have been horribly mis-sold by the President and his administration, and two, he sold out way too early in pushing for single-payer, AKA government-run healthcare.
As for the matter at hand, the shutdown, before government closed, congress tried 40 times to repeal the ACA, and that was even after the law had been held up by the U.S. Supreme Court and was effectively ratified by the American people through the re-election of Obama in 2012. Watching from Canada it's perplexing to see why so many people are so scared of everyone getting proper healthcare, and how people can walk around on a daily basis so completely ill-informed. I give people credit if they have legitimate disagreements with the government, but I can't think of a Canadian issue where the opposition is not just wrong, but they factually undermine their arguments with things that just aren't true. In the Land of the Free, I guess, nothing comes cheaper than the facts you make yourself.