By George E. Curry
Republicans have no shame. After House Republicans voted more than 40 times to block implementation of what they derisively call Obamacare, they have the temerity to complain that the Obama administration flubbed the Oct. 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Fred Upton (R-Mich,), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who voted against the Affordable Care Act, held a hearing on “the failures and issues surrounding the implementation of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) health insurance exchanges.”
Do Republicans who were willing to shut down the federal government because they couldn’t repeal the ACA want us to believe they honestly care about why the health care program had problems during its initial rollout?
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) isn’t buying it.
He said, “For the last few years my Republican friends have called the Affordable Care Act a ‘job killer,’ a ‘threat to liberty,’ and that it would ‘pull the plug on Grandma.’ They have said things like ‘We have to do everything in our power to prevent Obamacare,’ and ‘Obamacare. Get rid of it. Period.’
“All of the sudden, our friends on the other side of the aisle have forgotten this, and are now focused on the successful implementation of the law and the problems it faces. This is encouraging, and I hope this is a sign that we can work together on this critical issue.”
Don’t hold your breath.
While acknowledging that his administration “fumbled” the ball when it came to the Oct. 1 rollout, President Obama has become a serial apologist. He has personally accepted the blame when, in fact, few are asking where was Chief of Staff Denis McDonough during all of this. His primary job is to protect the president and he, along with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, failed miserably.
If the White House staff had studied the rollout of Romneycare in Massachusetts, they would have discovered that it, too, had a shaky start, getting only 123 signups in the first month; 2,289 after two months and 36,167 after 11 months. Yet, Mitt Romney, America’s Biggest Looser, has the gall to criticize the federal health law that was patterned after the one he proudly signed and later tried to disavow.
Friendly fire has come from Bill Clinton, the man who temporarily lost his Arkansas bar license for lying about having sex with a White House intern. He’s in no position lecture President Obama and anyone else about keeping their word to Americans.
Furthermore, Obama did what Clinton attempted and failed – he got health care reform legislation passed by Congress.
It was certainly needed.
According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, “As previous studies have shown, health care spending in the U.S. dwarfs that found in any other industrialized country. In 2009, U.S. spending reached nearly $8,000 per capita. The other study countries spent between one-third (Japan and New Zealand) and two-thirds (Switzerland and Norway) as much.”
A press release accompanying the study noted, “There were 2.4 physicians per 1,000 population in the U.S. in 2009, fewer than in all the countries in the study except Japan. The U.S. also had the fewest doctor consultations (3.9 per capita) of any country except Sweden. Relative to the other countries in the study, the U.S also had few hospital beds, short lengths of stay for acute care, and few hospital discharges per 1,000 population. On the other hand, U.S. hospital stays were far more expensive than those in other countries – more than $18,000 per discharge. By comparison, the cost per discharge in Canada was about $13,000, while in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany it was less than $10,000.”
It added, “Prices for the 30 most commonly used prescription drugs were a third higher in the U.S. compared to Canada and Germany, and more than double the amount paid for the same drugs in Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.”
The new law will give Blacks more access to health care.
A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, titled, “Health Coverage for the Black Population Today and Under the Affordable Care Act,” found: “Nationwide, just over one in five (21%) of Blacks do not have health insurance. However, the likelihood of being uninsured varies widely across states, ranging from 9 percent of Blacks in Delaware to 30 percent in Louisiana. Uninsured rates for nonelderly Blacks are particularly high in the South. The largest uninsured nonelderly Black populations reside in Florida (718,800), Texas (613,100), and Georgia (594,600). In addition, Blacks comprise a large share of the uninsured population in the District of Columbia (52%), Mississippi (48%), and Louisiana (42%).”
As much as Obama, in his words, fumbled the ball, there is no reason to forfeit the game, especially in the first quarter.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook