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The Failure of The President
The Different Drummer

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Intentional misinformation by the Republicans has created a lot of confusion about Obamacare. If the President wants this plan to succeed, his administration needs to do a better job of educating the American people who stand to benefit from the law.
by Carl Petersen and Cindy Petersen
Illustration by Sydney

We live in a branded world. Studies have shown that being exposed to brands can affect your self-esteem, behavior, self-image and perception of others. (1) The parent of any young child knows the powerful draw of the Golden Arches. Coca-Cola and Pepsi spend almost five billion dollars per year on advertising. (2) Band-Aid has become synonymous for an entire product category.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is “the most sweeping overhaul of the unwieldy U. S. healthcare system in about a half century.” (3) The 2,000+ page law fell short of Senator Obama’s promise of Universal Health Care, but did provide benefits supported by a large majority of Americans. (4) The opposition gave the law it’s brand name of Obamacare, but President Obama has since embraced it. Unfortunately, “many Americans still don’t realize that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare is (sic) the same thing.” (5) Even worse, those who would likely benefit from the provisions of the law seem to know the least about it. The President has failed at the branding of Obamacare.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that this is the same Obama who outmaneuvered the mighty Clinton political machine and branded “hope and change” to become the first African-American President. It took more than the incompetence of his opponent to become the first President since World War II to win reelection with an unemployment rate above 7.2 percent. (6) Obama needs to put the same effort into making people understand the benefits of his reform and the dangers of abandoning the path we are on. Granted, the President does not have the protection of truth in advertising laws that exist in the private sector. This makes it even more important to provide the information that counters false claims by the Republicans including:

“The Government Accountability Office estimated that (Obamacare) will add to the long-term deficit by $6.2 trillion.” (7) Searching the actual report finds no mention of this figure. (8) Instead it was calculated by Republican staff members based on a worst case scenario where none of the law’s cost containment measures work. That same report also ran a scenario where these measures work exactly as specified. Using the Republican staffers’ same methodology, under this scenario Obamacare would reduce debt by $13.25 trillion over 75 years. (9)

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by $109 billion over ten years. (10) While the reform will add $940 billion in expenditures, these will be offset by increasing revenue and cutting costs. The CBO also estimates that the law will cut the deficit “in a broad range around one-half percent of the GDP” over the second ten year period. (11)

“A few weeks ago UPS sent a letter to 15,000 employees and it said: We are terminating spousal health insurance because of Obamacare.” (12) In reality UPS only excluded “working spouses with medical benefits available from their own employer,” under the justification that spouses should be “covered under their own employer - just as UPS has a responsibility to offer coverage” to its own employees. (13) They also noted that Obamacare ensures that ”all employer coverage must meet minimum value and affordability, and coverage requirements.” (14)

As a lawyer, Obama should have known better than to promise that “for the average American out there, for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance...their only impact is that their insurance is stronger, better and more secure that it was before.” (15) The fact is without putting into place a single payer system controlled by the government, Obama does not have the ability to prevent employers or insurance companies from using Obamacare as a cover to increase their profits. Unfortunately, not all CEO’s believe that “an investment in your people is an investment in shareholder value.” (16)

“5,600,000 illegal aliens may be covered under Obamacare.” (17) This claim is made despite the fact that the law specifically limits access “to lawful residents.” (18) Unfortunately, this means that those in the country without documentation will continue to receive their healthcare through the emergency room. This care is inefficient and contributes to the $49 billion a year in hospital bills that are unpaid. (19) These costs are passed on to the taxpayers and to those with insurance.

The government is currently in a state of partial shutdown because the Republicans have tied the repeal of Obamacare to the budget process. They claim that they have been willing to compromise by changing the method from defunding to delaying, but in the end the goal is still to repeal the law. In its place they propose a system that allows Americans to save tax free for their next heart transplant, limits legal recourse for those harmed by their doctor or medical device and encourages a race to the bottom for state regulation of insurance by allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines. In their effort to craft a plan that is “180 degrees different” than Obamacare, they even eliminated popular provisions like guaranteed acceptance of those with preexisting conditions. (20)

This would leave us back at square one with a healthcare system that was failing. We have great hospitals and doctors in the United States, but they are unavailable to the vast majority of the uninsured and underinsured. The World Health Organization ranked our healthcare system 37th in the world. (21) We are ranked 51st in life expectancy. (22) To get these results we spend more than “two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world” on a per capita basis and more than any other country as a percentage of our GDP. (23) We are all depending on the President to do a better job at making sure that more than the brand of Obamacare is a success.
1) http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/10/20/buying-generic-products-instead-of-brand-names-can-lead-to-a-low/
2) http://adage.com/article/news/pepsi-pours-fortune-marketing-drinks-indulgent-snacks/232405/
3) http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/28/usa-healthcare-court-idUSL2E8HS4WG20120628
4) http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/30/1079091/-Reading-PPACA-is-Hard#
5) http://www.kgw.com/news/Poll-Some-dont-know-Obamacare-Affordable-Care-Act-the-same-227228701.html
6) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/why-president-obama-will-need-to-make-history-again/2012/08/03/e3cb608e-dd8c-11e1-af1d-753c613ff6d8_blog.html
7) http://morgangriffith.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=334340
8) http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/651702.pdf
9) http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2013/jun/17/morgan-griffith/morgan-griffith-says-gao-estimates-obamacare-will-/
10) http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/healthcare/299895-cbo-obamacare-repeal-will-increase-the-deficit
11) http://www.cbo.gov/publication/25016
12) http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2013/09/25/transcript-sen-ted-cruzs-filibuster-against-obamacare/
13) and 14) http://i.cdn.turner.com/money/2013/images/08/21/UPS-Spousal-Coverage.pdf?iid=EL
15) http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/may/02/barack-obama/president-barack-obama-says-people-health-insuranc/
16) http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/29/news/economy/employers-obamacare-benefits/
17) http://steveking.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3432&Itemid=300247
18) http://uspolitics.about.com/od/healthcare/a/Are-Illegal-Immigrants-Covered-Under-Obamacare.htm
19) http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-05-09-uninsured-unpaid-hospital-bills_n.htm
20) http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/322955-conservatives-unveil-obamacare-replacement
21) http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/sep/14/paul-hipp/rocker-viral-video-mocks-us-37th-best-health-care-/
22) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries.html
23) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries.html

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