Someone was kind enough to post a comment to something I wrote about the Tea Party, and in the response they cited the above phrase. I want to take a moment to ask a single question in response:
If the new health care legislation requires people to buy private health insurance, how could it be a federal takeover?
I am serious in asking the question. I could see the argument being made if...and only if...the legislation created a single provider system, but it doesn't. Note the word "provider", as that has never seriously been considered in any form during the recent debate. Now a single "payer" system had been debated, but even that's far different than a "federal takeover" in that such a system basically would make the government the paying agent for health care, but not the entity that provides the actual coverage (a.k.a. the "provider"). In a single payer system private health care professionals would still "provide" the care. This is enormously different than, say, the national health service that exists in the U.K.
Is it all just semantics? Absolutely not, because words do matter. It's not coincidence that the word "Obamacare" is used by Tea Party members and the their GOP sponsors. It's called sloganeering, and it's been a tactic employed by spin doctors since well before the term "spin doctor" was ever invented. No need to think about this stuff...we can just call it "Obamacare" and dismiss it out of hand. It's this kind of sloganeering that turns a fact...that the legislation requires people to buy private insurance...into the bizarre fiction that this equates to the federal government "taking over" health care.
As for me, I don't want to pay for YOUR health care. If you get sick YOU should have to pay for it, not ME. YOU should be required to get health care insurance because in this country we don't turn people away at hospitals, yet in those cases the bills and expenses are just as real as they are for anyone else. Currently that the cost for the uninsured is spread out among all of us who do have coverage and that's completely ridiculous. Oh and please don't tell me that insurance isn't needed and that the health care providers can sue the person to recoup unpaid bills, as that's just YET ANOTHER form of cost shifting (who pays the lawyers? who pays the court costs? what if they can't recover the money anyway?). My real beef with the current legislation is that I think EVERYONE should have to pay SOMETHING for coverage. On public assistance? Well guess what: part of your beer or smokes money should be forked over to pay for at least a portion of your health care insurance. It's cruel, but everyone needs to have some skin in this game if we are going to control costs. No more free rides and no more cost shifting.