By Wendell Potter
The Huffington Post, May 6, 2013
Will the implementation of some of the most important provisions of ObamaCare this fall and next year result in the “train wreck” Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) predicted a few days ago?
No. But you can be certain that there will be no shortage of political candidates and high-powered political spin doctors who will be working relentlessly between now and the 2014 midterms to convince us that it will be.
If the Democrats and consumer advocates who support ObamaCare are not at work developing their own strategies to counter the coming barrage of misleading spin, the GOP will have an excellent chance of controlling Capitol Hill after the next elections.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Of those who are serious about health care reform, some want to abandon the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and immediately enact single payer, and others want to abandon the single payer cause and move full steam ahead with implementation of the ACA. But should we really abandon either approach?
It is clear that ACA alone will be grossly deficient. Thirty million people will remain uninsured, inadequate low actuarial value plans will become the new standard, and wasteful spending will continue because of the highly flawed, administratively complex model of ACA. So single payer should not be abandoned since it is an imperative if we want to have affordable health care for everyone.
Why shouldn’t we abandon ACA? Because, quite simply, it is all that we have right now, and it will provide some limited relief for millions of people. If we were to abandon ACA now, mobilizing a social movement and then enacting and implementing single payer would still take many years – too long for those who would receive some benefit from ACA now.
So we should do both. Let the ACA enthusiasts continue with the implementation, while single payer forces step up the social movement for health care justice though advocacy for an improved Medicare for everyone.
So where is the train wreck? There isn’t any. But Wendell Potter is right. The opponents of reform will latch onto every ACA implementation glitch, real or imagined, and onto the criticisms which will inevitably follow. They will attempt to frame the implementation as a debacle, and run with that in their effort to use election politics to advance their anti-government agenda.
This complicates the message for the single payer camp. We need to educate people as to why ACA will fall intolerably short of reform goals, but we do not want that to become part of the Repeal ACA message. The opponents initially supported Repeal and Replace, but they have largely abandoned Replace, concentrating on Repeal. So how do we counter the Repeal message?
We need to emphasize the positive message of single payer – truly affordable health care for everyone. We can add that we don’t need to repeal ACA since it can help some during the transition to single payer. But our action message should be Replace – letting the public know that we really do have a much better program that will work for everyone, whereas the opponents do not.
So perhaps a unifying message for the supporters of health care justice should be:
Forget Repeal, REPLACE!