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Protest over Obamacare: a backdoor attack on the poor

11/6/2013, 12:15 p.m.
“Cuttin’ food stamps for blacks makes my family go hungry.”

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been under serious attack. The website designed to provide Internet enrollment is defective; and some people who thought that they would be able to keep their present policy, no matter what, have been notified of their cancellation. President Obama’s decision to come to Boston to respond to his critics is not a casual choice of venue.

With conservatives willing to shut down the government to prevent the funding of the ACA, citizens could easily come to the false conclusion that such hostility toward public health reform always existed. The fact is that the prototype to the ACA was launched enthusiastically in Massachusetts in 2006 under the Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

At the time Romney was not acting as a political maverick. At the formal ceremony for the new law, Romney was joined on the stage of Faneuil Hall by leaders of the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. They were especially pleased that the statute contained a provision to require everyone to have health insurance.

After Obama was elected president in 2008, the conservative position on universal health care changed in only four years between 2006 and 2010. Obama had agreed to the Massachusetts model, even though he preferred a single payer plan similar to Medicare, but that was not enough of a concession to earn conservative support.

As a candidate for president in 2012, Romney offered a weak explanation for his lack of support for the ACA, which was modeled on his own plan for Massachusetts. He said disingenuously that what worked in Massachusetts was not necessarily good for the rest of the country. His attack was clearly personal. Powerful Republicans had decided to destroy Obama’s stature by any means necessary.

Nonetheless, it is conceded that the universal health plan in Massachusetts has been a success. There were many setbacks in the early years, but now 97 percent of state residents have health insurance coverage. Obama’s focus on the state’s history with their health plan indicates that the delays and glitches ACA is now experiencing are reasonable to expect.

A major aspect of the ACA is to establish minimum standards for coverage of health insurance plans. People can continue with the same insurers if the companies decide to offer the same plans. However, some insurers decided to discontinue substandard plans and notified their customers. Much has been made of the disappointment people feel because they are unable to keep their defective plans. The media have been quick to develop the conflict over this issue, although it is better for citizens to be freed from so-called “junk” policies.

Obama’s trip to Boston showed to the nation that many of the problems now confronting the implementation of Obamacare are normal. However, the attack on the poor in America is abnormal. Even John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, is reported to have said, “I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That, if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”

Some affluent Americans have not yet decided that every citizen deserves adequate health care as a right of U.S. citizenship. America is still the land of opportunity, but as the wealthiest country in the world, there must be a commitment to assure a reasonable standard of living for every citizen.

Some analysts now assert that racial hostility is driving this animus toward the poor. Conservatives are willing to sacrifice the welfare of destitute whites, who outnumber poor blacks, in order to manifest their racial bias. This strategy will certainly backfire when poor whites realize that they have become the pawns in a vicious battle over racial bigotry with deep historical roots.