Health care reform is here to stay and it will boost U.S. economic prosperity


EL PASO – The Republican cries for repeal of Obamacare that followed the affirmation by the Supreme Court of the law’s constitutionality reminded me of my days as a young journalist at The Miami Herald in 1977 when U.S. Representative Claude Pepper (D., Florida) then chairman of the House Committee on Aging, spoke of nothing else but defending Social Security and Medicare.



Pepper, then 76 and known as “Mr. Social Security,” seemed unimaginably ancient to me and the thought of defending a law that had gone into effect in 1935, 42 years earlier, seemed to be the ridiculous ravings of a nearly senile old man.

Since then I have come to understand why the old congressman kept on fighting. The Republicans never gave up.

Remember when President George W. Bush stumped to privatize Social Security after his win in 2004? “I have political capital and I intend to spend it,” he said. And spend it he did to no avail. Even without old Rep. Pepper the legislation that insures old age security to millions of Americans remained in place. And when the markets that Bush wanted us to put our safe Social Security checks into collapsed at the end of his administration, Social Security was still safe and our elderly citizens still had their retirement income.

Well it is the same with Obamacare. It is certain that the threat of repeal from the right wing of American politics will echo for generations to come, a constant rallying cry for their voter base.

And I am just as certain that repeal will never happen. They would need an unlikely concentration of power to do that – a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, a filibuster – proof supermajority in the U.S. Senate and the presidency of the United States. Even with majorities in both houses of Congress Obamacare barely scraped by the supermajority needed to pass in the U.S. Senate.

Health-care reform will prove to be a massive boon to the American economy much in the same way that the creation of the interstate highway system did at mid-20th Century.

The Affordable Care Act removes one of the greatest burdens from the backs of middle class Americans – the group that powers the American economy – and gives them employment mobility.

No longer will they have to make money and employment decisions exclusively on whether or not they have health insurance. It again frees the middle class to plan and spend according to other needs and perhaps most importantly, it frees workers and professionals at all levels to change jobs and move anywhere in the country for better work without the fear of losing health insurance and without the specter of catastrophic financial collapse due to illness.

In fact, looking beyond the health care benefits it provides, this legislation will eventually be credited as the foundation of a new American economic prosperity in the 21st century driven by the average citizen and it will be defended.

Here’s to you Claude.

4 thoughts on “Health care reform is here to stay and it will boost U.S. economic prosperity

  1. Estimado Señor Smith: It is telling in this prelude to the Supreme Court’s decision upholding “Obamacare” that what I saw in so many, probably the majority of young people was what little reflection upon the health needs of “others” in general. They seemed to focus only upon their own immediate situation and saw in “Obamacare” erroneously only increasing health insurance costs to themselves. No concern for their own parent’s health costs! It is interesting and I have always reflected upon the duplicity of all those that claim that the US is a Christian nation how few are the “Christians” that think of the needs, not only health needs, of the less privileged around us. Poverty is violent whereever it is! When they are raising a family and understand how economically devastating (it goes without saying it is also emotionally devastating) a catastrophic desease will be the Republicans will tell you you have a “Prayer,” but not health insurance without a profit for somebody, an insurance company primarily, a hospital of course. Very Christlike to ask for money before you’ll be healed. I know, I know, there are many Christians health institutions that do their share and are to be commended. But I think that a Christian nation, especially with our resources, all basic health care should be free for everybody.

  2. Obviously this new model has problems but the United States pays almost 18% of GDP and the Europeans and Candians spend a little more than half of what we pay. They also tend to live a few years longer than Americans. At 18% of GDP you are talking about numerous and highly entrenched special interests in Washington DC lavishing campaign money, free dinners and other gifts to lawmakers who control the laws. Health care is crying out for regulation but the political gridlock is making it impossible. There are 20 models of health care that make our old non-system look expensive and incompetent. Simply extending medicare to everyone would control prices and cut costs. Perhaps someone has some ideas on why this would not work. It’s basically a single payer plan. Medicare is not perfect but does negotiate fees. A free market has completely failed in American medical care and provides incentives for medical racketeering which is rampant in America.

  3. As a retired Registered Nurse with 35 years experience in 16 states specializing in acute hospital care, my observations:
    1) That which is once granted is seldom EASILY taken away.
    2) “Basic” healthcare for all CITIZENS is a worthy concept, BUT the emphasis is on basic healthcare.
    3) Hospitals are not hotels, nor should they attempt to be.
    4) Hospital stays, while never “desired”, need not be luxurious to be effective — those who would demand “champagne” while on a “beer budget” need budget counseling.
    5) In this ridiculously litigious society, a good remedy would be the abolition of legal contingency fees — “the medical malpractice lottery”.
    6) Everyone, at some level with some degree of proportionality, has to have a vested interest in prevention, treatment and outcomes. IMHO

  4. The point about the health care law affording the opportunity for people to change jobs, and even states to find work is an essential point, and one that I have not heard before. It seems that members of the administration, an administration I support, are not focusing on what ordinary people need to hear.
    I thank you for this article, and request some follow-up articles identifying the same kinds of issues, in the same kind of clear language for the administration to use to get its messages to the people who need to hear them.

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