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Politics // Mostly Politics
Dan Boylan

It’s Really Romney-Obamacare

I suppose whether you call the health care law recently upheld by the Supreme Court “Obamacare” or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) might indicate your politics.

But thanks to a quarter of a billion dollars spent by the Republican Party to rebrand and defeat it, even those of us who liked the new law, more often than not, call it “Obamacare” as well.

That’s a shame, for it should be called RomneyObamacare because, as all this year’s more conservative Republican presidential candidates and any sentient voter knows, Obamacare is Gov. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care legislation taken national, without a single supporting Republican vote in the United States Senate.

Most of us on the left who liked the PPACA liked it only because it was the best Obama could get without any help from congressional Republicans and the reservations demanded in the legislation by Blue Dog Democrats.

Liberals wanted an expansion of Medicare to cover everybody, or, barring that, at least an option to buy government coverage.

We got RomneyObamacare instead, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberals on the Court in upholding its constitutionality.

Romney and Hawaii Republican Senate aspirant Linda Lingle may stretch their self-proclaimed political centrism to the limit arguing that what’s good for Massachusetts isn’t good for the country, but given its parentage, Romney’s nose will visibly grow in doing so, and the PPACA is significantly better than the health care mess with which we’ve saddled ourselves.

I have far more experience with this mess within my extended ohana than I would have liked. It began with a healthy young woman turned down for health care coverage because of a “preexisting condition” that wasn’t much of a preexisting condition at all.

Or there’s the calabash nephew, strong enough to take out any wall you can imagine, who was turned down because of a 17-year-old high school knee injury.

A few weeks after the young woman was rejected for coverage, she was sent, uninsured, to one of Honolulu’s emergency rooms with a possible attack of appendicitis. A few tests, a couple of “encounters” with doctors, and she received a bill for $7,700.

That’s a numerical way of spelling bankruptcy, not health care, for a part-time student with a part-time job.

The hospital ultimately allowed the charges to be negotiated downward, just like at the used car lot, but they still would have spelled bankruptcy, in capital letters, for the young woman had she paid them.

Or there was the mid-40s Mainland relative whose red state employers provided no health insurance at all. Diabetes happened, and the health care it required did result in bankruptcy.

Hawaii’s political leaders have long bragged the wisdom of the state’s employer-mandated health care and its resultant high percentage of persons with insurance coverage.

But since the passage of Romneycare in Massachusetts, the top spot has belonged securely to Masschusetts. Currently, only 4.9 percent of the Bay State’s citizens are uninsured, followed by Vermont at 8.6 percent. Hawaii ranks third at 9.1 percent.

It’s hard for the health care industry to bankrupt the citizens of Massachusetts, but the economic recession has made it significantly easier in the rest of the country. Since 2008, uninsured rates have gone up at least a tick or two throughout the country.

The supremely upheld RomneyObamacare, with its estimated coverage for 30 million more Americans, regardless of preexisting conditions, could reverse that trend.

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