Some conservative commentators are making the case — a good one, I might add — that the Affordable Care Act is designed as a prelude to single payer, or a nationalized health system. The ACA, as Andy McCarthy points out in the National Review, does nationalize a lot of health care…stuff…with its one-size-fits-all approach to health insurance regulations, the federal exchanges and the like.
But to get from the ACA to single payer, you have to have something that the Obama administration might have killed: the confidence and support of the American people for a government solution to health care problems. Surveys suggest the administration never had it to a large degree from the beginning for ACA; they had to build confidence as they went. They’ve botched it to an astounding degree.
So, the question that I keep pondering is this: Were they that stupid? What led them to think that the insurance cancellations wouldn’t be that big a deal, wouldn’t affect Americans in the way they have?
You could argue that the White House might have thought that those losing insurance would have found better options on the exchanges and thus been happy to discard their old “subpar” policies. But the website problems have meant people can’t find these shiny new programs.
I don’t buy that reasoning. Even if the website was working wonderfully, millions of folks getting insurance cancellations would surely be a bad story. A really bad story. And the White House also had to know that–again, even if the website was working properly–some of those millions would end up with policies they didn’t like, paying more money than they did before. Those anecdotes would be at least as powerful as all the stories of the uninsured that liberals promoted in the ramp-up to passage of the ACA.
Why did the White House think they could blow past this problem?
Some clues are found in the messaging after the bad stories broke. When the Wall Street Journal ran an op/ed by a cancer patient whose insurance policy (that she liked) was canceled due to the ACA, White House advisers started promoting a liberal talking point that the insurance company was to blame, that she might be able to get better coverage under the ACA, and the story was “sensational,” as if using that descriptor robbed it of its impact. Yes, it was sensational in the sense that it created a stir…because it was so horrible. Who among us isn’t moved by the plight of a cancer patient clinging to those things that help keep precious life within her grasp? That was the whole point of the liberal anecdotes pre-ACA, wasn’t it? To remind us of the human suffering involved in not having adequate health care coverage.
The White House has resorted to using percentages instead of real numbers to talk about these cancelled policy victims. They and their liberal allies like to point out the very small percentage of Americans (less than 10 percent! no, really, just five percent!) who have been affected by the ACA changes forcing insurers to cancel old policies while they become compliant with the new law.
Did the White House really believe that Americans would buy this “small percentage” argument?
I’m beginning to think they did. They believed that Americans would see the value in a policy that benefits the “greater good,” and thus look away from the suffering of this small percentage. They really believed that. Because they themselves do.
But, so far, America has proved itself better than those who operate in the rarefied atmosphere of the White House where statistics are more important than actual lives ruined by government policies. Americans, as recent polls suggest, have bigger hearts than the manipulative crew in the administration realized. Americans sympathize with those losing their health insurance. They don’t care if that cancer patient is one of five percent or 500 percent. They don”t want harm inflicted on her in their name.
Sure, they might have also been moved by the anecdotes trotted out by liberals to make the case for some kind of health care reform. But they didn’t expect that reform to actually hurt other people in the process.
So, while the president and his allies might have seen the ACA as a springboard to single payer, they’ve actually taught Americans a valuable lesson. The ends, no matter how good, don’t justify the means when innocent people are hurt. Nobody bought into that idea when they voted for “hope and change.”