The Obama Healthcare Bill Explained: Why the Doctors Like It

Like the bill or not, the party delivered on a big promise to America.

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Americans are media-savvy. We recognize that stirring fear is a great way for news outlets to boost ratings, and politicians to corral votes. But healthcare is a very personal subject. And there have been enough twists and turns in the last 14 months that the question, “What does it mean for me and my family?” may still need an answer. So let’s start today with a particularly succinct appraisal of the legislation that passed Congress last night. It is from the nation’s doctors--the guys and gals you trust, in the most vulnerable and nerve-wracking moments of your life, to give it to you straight; the moments that this great debate was all about.

“By extending health coverage to tens of millions of uninsured, improving competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, promoting prevention and wellness, reducing administrative burdens, and promoting clinical comparative effectiveness research, this bill will help patients and the physicians who care for them.”

And if you are in one of those millions of American families who already have healthcare insurance?

“Those who have insurance will see improvements right away: lifetime caps on coverage end; children can stay on parents’ policies until age 26, and insurance companies can’t cancel coverage except in the case of fraud.”

This enthusiastic diagnosis of the healthcare bill comes from the American Medical Association. Now, I have been a national political reporter for over 20 years, for most of that time in Washington. And I can tell you this: If the AMA endorses a healthcare bill, you can rest assured that the legislation is not some left-wing radical ploy that will crater the healthcare system and send us down the road to communism. The doctors like their tee-off times; have fought liberal proposals for national health insurance for 60 years, and most recently played a role in torpedoing Hillary-care during the Clinton years. They are a powerful lobby, and played a key role in writing this bill. So did those other “socialists,” the drug companies. And that commie front for left-wing seniors, AARP.

You may not like the bill for other reasons--if you are a business owner and don’t want to have to provide health insurance to your employees, or a rich family that doesn’t like the tax on your Wall Street returns--but whatever it is, Obama-care ain’t socialism. In fact, the nation’s doctors say it is good medicine.

This is no government takeover. That was a lie. There are no death panels. That was another lie. This is not the end of capitalism or freedom. More lies.

The free-enterprise system won, you silly Fox commentators and rude Tea Party growlers. The Republican Party should be taking victory laps today, not whining about repeal.

We wake up today with a healthcare system that, at its core, is just like yesterday--based on people buying health insurance from private insurance companies. A few million working families will qualify for federal tax breaks, or government aid--but only to buy more private insurance. The liberals had to give up on their biggest dream; there is no public option.

And this is not a gift to illegal immigrants. Another lie. Of the last slim slice of the American population that will not get health insurance after the president signs this bill, the millions of illegal workers in this country are the most significant chunk.

When it comes time to vote in November (or in November 2012, Sarah), remember those lies, and who tried to scare you with them.

In the meantime, appreciate Democrats. God bless their bleeding, tax-hiking hearts. They did it.

In the worst political climate, at a time when Washington seemed most dysfunctional, and quitters like Evan Bayh were fleeing for the doors, a ton of Democratic lawmakers put country ahead of careers last night, and got it done.

You may not like the bill, but you have to give the Democrats credit. There was nothing sneaky about their agenda. They have promised us for decades that, if given power, they would roll up their sleeves and take on the problem of our fraying, unfair healthcare system. They have tried and failed, and tried and failed. But, last night, the Democratic Party made good on a promise.

It is supposed to be how democracy works, yet it’s a novel experience, right? They told us they would do it. We voted them in to do it. And damn if they didn’t come through.

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Check out our photo gallery of the last week of the healthcare debate.