It’s been five years since a White House microphone caught Vice President Joe Biden’s not-so-subtle remark to President Obama as the president signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Vice President Biden probably thought he was being poetic as he celebrated the largest overhaul of health care since the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. While the vice president was more Tupac than Shakespeare, the truth is he was right.
I was a freshman in college when the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, still riding high from the historic 2008 election, muscled health care reform to the President’s desk. For months, Congress debated every single provision of the bill, crafting a complex piece of legislation that spanned over 1,000 pages. Night after night on national television, conservative media talking heads capitalized on every opportunity to eviscerate the President’s attempt to transform health care in the United States.
Five years later, those same talking heads still bloviate on and on about how the ACA is annihilating the American Dream. In their alternate universe, they’d love for that to be the case, but if they didn’t have such a hostile relationship with the truth, they’d realize how hollow their arguments are.
For years, they’ve peddled the same tired, disproven narrative. Chances are you’ve come across these outdated claims; but if by chance they come up again, you can find the antidote below (aka the truth):
- “The ACA institutes murderous death panels!” – Not even close. The Independent Payment Advisory Board is an independent panel of experts designed to make recommendations as to how to maintain low health care costs without compromising quality. Congress oversees this body, and can even vote against its recommendations. Hardly dangerous, let alone murderous.
- “Health care reform will be a massive jobs killer!” – Have you seen the latest unemployment statistics? Unemployment is down to its lowest level in seven years, and the private sector has created more than 11 million jobs. No, we’re not out of the woods yet, but the real problem isn’t health care reform, it’s the refusal to increase the minimum wage, invest in infrastructure, and prioritize workforce development. Gutting the ACA will not solve anyone’s problems – it will undoubtedly make them worse.
- “The uninsured rate will skyrocket!” – Now this is just embarrassing. The uninsured rate has dropped dramatically, and the current rate of 12.9 percent is the lowest in 40 years!
The reality is that the ACA is working, it’s making a positive impact, and most importantly, it’s saving lives. The ACA has faced numerous challenges in the courts, and the Supreme Court is currently debating a case that could pose the biggest test yet. However, as ACA-bashers lament the continued survival of a law that is a literal life-saver, my friends and I at The Greenlining Institute will celebrate another milestone for a healthier, more inclusive America. No, it’s not perfect, and there’s still more work to do, but we are all better off because of the ACA.
So congratulations to another year of progress to the most controversial law in recent history. Only time will reveal the true extent to which lives have been changed, but one thing will always be certain…
It really is a big *bleepin’* deal.