How Obamacare Should Honestly Have Been Defended

Over on The Daily Caller, Josh Blackman offers a tongue-in-cheek parody Thanksgiving Address that could have been given by President Obama in November 2009 to honestly defend the yet-to-be-released Senate originated Affordable Care Act.  But his parody is fair and nuanced enough to provide a template for what an honest description and defense of Obamacare would have looked like.  Indeed, it is based on what the administration and its defenders have argued both in court and in the political sphere since the law was passed, and it would not take much tweaking to convert it from a parody into a good faith presentation and honest defense of the ACA.

So the question is, could Obamacare been enacted had it been accurately described and defended this way before its passage?  And, if the answer to this is “No,” what does this tell us about the “democratic legitimacy” of the ACA?  Here is a taste:

Our healthcare system is broken. There are over 40 million people without insurance. At the same time, it is not fair for some people to have very generous plans that are subsidized by employers. Further, it is also not fair for young and healthy people to have cheap, bare-bones plans that do not contribute to the insurance pools. What we need is a way to equalize things.

So, under the Affordable Care Act, generous health insurance benefits, so-called “Cadillac plans,” will be heavily taxed to create incentives for your employer to drop them, so you will be forced to buy normalized insurance on the health care markets. Bare-bones plans that only cover catastrophic needs will not be compliant with the ACA. If you have one of these, particularly if you are on the individual market, it will be cancelled. Plus lots of other modest plans will also be cancelled. (We estimate this will affect at least ten million Americans.) If you do not have insurance, and you can afford to buy it, we will penalize you if you decide to go uninsured. We cannot maintain the “status quo” of the broken healthcare system.

This is a large part of how the ACA will fix this national problem. We need you, especially young and healthy people, to purchase more comprehensive, and more expensive plans, so you can subsidize the risk pools, and make health insurance more available for our fellow Americans who need it the most.

In order for the forty million uninsured Americans to gain insurance, the rest of us must sacrifice a bit of what we have. So yes, tens of million of plans will be cancelled. Employers will drop coverage, and force people onto the exchanges. While this may be a massive inconvenience for some Americans, our moral obligation to those less fortunate compels us to take this action and move forward. We promise it will be easy and affordable to buy new, more comprehensive coverage. And if our plan works, it “will finally reduce the costs of health care.”

It is pivotal that the American people and their representatives understand this critical social compromise before the law is voted on. We should tell the American people where we are headed. A frank discussion on these issues is essential to an informed debate on healthcare reform. We all have to be in this together for it to work.

Read the whole thing at The Daily Caller.