Monday, January 13, 2014

Of Torts and Obamacare

As usual I find myself locked into battles with some of my buddies on facebook over the ACA.  Despite reports that health insurance premiums only rose 4 per cent in each of the past two years, my friends have posted audacious claims of 30 to 40 per cent spikes in premiums.  These are the usual "personal" stories the Republicans like to indulge in so much these days, as if they have the "true" feel for the man in the street.  

When I looked into the matter more closely I saw that the biggest spike in health insurance premiums occurred between 1999 and 2009.  Health insurance rates rose a whopping 131 per cent over this ten year period, well in excess of any increases we have seen recently.  

The cry then, as it has been for many years, is tort reform, despite no indication that it has worked in the states it has been implemented in, such as Texas.  The Republicans believe the only problem with health care and health insurance is runaway lawsuits, even when the AMA and American Hospital Association have long singled out the inability to collect on uninsured and underinsured patients.   

Several states addressed this issue by introducing individual insurance mandates.  Notably, Massachusetts enacted individual mandates under Governor Romney in 2007.  Funny enough, he got the idea from the Heritage Foundation, which had long championed individual mandates, but to hear his fellow GOP candidates rail against him in the 2012 Primaries, this was nothing less than "socialism," and the former governor soon found himself backpedaling on "Romneycare."

Of course, no one likes to have their ideas stolen by the other political party, but rather than claiming these ideas as their own, Republicans have disowned them all together, and tried to claim during the general election that what was good for 90 per cent of Americans was good enough for everyone and that somehow the hospitals could absorb these 10 per cent who insisted on using the emergency room for their health care.

It is hard to gauge yet whether "Obamacare" is working or not, but the slowing in health insurance premium increases would appear to indicate it is having a positive impact.  This of course is the greatest fear of the Republicans, having spent so much time and money the past three years in their attempts to defeat the Affordable Care Act.  

The GOP continues to flood television and the blogosphere with ads and memes decrying "Obamacare," hoping to unhinge Democratic incumbents in 40 states.  The ads offer up the same old tropes, as the Republicans have yet to offer any alternative solutions (at least none that they admit to) other than their dear old tort reform.


  1. Quite so, James……
    The Republicans were calling this program a 'train wreck' even before sign-up began. And so many of them, using the exact terminology…..almost as if had been written out for them by someone. How do you term something 'a train wreck' even before it has begun? Amazing clairvoyance?

  2. They've dug such a deep hole for themselves, especially with the economy picking up and more and more persons signing up in the state and federal exchanges. Even with so many Democratic Senate seats (21) up for grabs, I doubt the GOP will make any gains.