Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Thursday, September 19, 2013

TeaParty Idiocy and the ACA

Isn’t it time for someone to be rational about the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare?

Right now, so-called “establishment Republicans are being bullied by the right-wing Tea Party extremists, who are seeking a resolution to defund the ACA in return for, in essence, not shutting down the government. And in that context, the right-wing media are spreading lies (really, can’t I call them for what they are?) as part of concerted disinformation campaign which seeks support for the Tea Party idiocy.

But has no one caught the irony of the GOP-Tea Party war on the ACA?

In order for the Obama administration to push through the legislation, it had to make soul-selling compromises with the healthcare-industrial complex. That means it had to make concessions to the insurance industry so it would be part of the program, providing the exchanges and pathways into the reimbursement system. The pharmaceutical industry won concessions that included barring drugs from Canada and not letting Medicare bid on drugs to lower the prices. In short, the Tea Party mouthy regulars don’t realize — because they are so stupid —that their sub rosa corporatist leaders squeezed major victories out of this legislation. In other words, the corporatists “got theirs” and can now sit back smiling while the great unwashed Tea Party sheep bleat about how bad the program is.

So, John Boehner and his gutless ilk are caving in to the pressure from the right-wing idiocy without the foggiest notion that they are, in a sense, eating their own young. Aside from this insanity, what is it about the ACA the people need to know in order to get a perspective. Well, one of the benefits of being older is the institutional memory. I was just starting my Masters program in hospital and health administration at the University of Iowa when Medicare and Medicaid had just passed as legislation and was in the process of implementation through what was known then as the Department of Health Education and Welfare.

In 1966-67, we heard the same agonized yammering from the healthcare-industrial complex. The predictions of medical Armageddon, patient deaths and physicians fleeing the industry were everywhere. The American hospital Association, American Medical Association and others never tumbled to the fact that these programs would be the greatest source of income and sustenance that they would have ever seen. The less fortunate would now have coverage and physicians could now be paid in good old American dollars instead of trading chickens for their services. Hospitals’ cash flows increased and the race for buying new technology was on.

The Affordable Care Act will provide similar benefits. In fact, the biggest risk to the industry from the ACA will be demand-pull inflation — the same kind of inflation we saw in the 1960s when supply couldn’t keep up with the demand provided by the new insurance programs. The legislation and its cash flow will permit a continued technological arms race as providers compete in a part of the economy that really should eschew competition (but that’s a whole different discussion about economics).

If, dear reader, you understand the points I am making here then you will understand why the Republicans and their Tea Party buddies are being so stupid. Disabling the ACA will hurt the very constituencies that poor money into the Republican and Tea Party coffers.