As I surveyed the Halloween masks on display at an area store, I was surprised not to find an Obamacare mask. Obamacare has been so demonized by Congressional Republicans that it deserves a place alongside Frankenstein's Monster and Dracula. Some Republicans are so scared of Obamacare that they have held up funding for government activity unless the stake of defunding is thrust through its heart.
Obamacare is scary. Look at what it proposes to do. It will help the uninsured in our nation (1 in 7) to be insured in one of two ways. If they make less than 133 percent of the poverty line (the poverty line is about $11,000 for a single person and about $23,000 for a family of four) they will be covered by an expansion of Medicaid (unless their state has, like South Carolina, opted out).
Others can purchase insurance through exchanges. Exchanges are marketplaces where private companies compete for business. Premium costs for various policies have been released and they seem affordable. Low and moderate income folks will have access to tax credits to help pay premiums. Persons who choose not to be covered by insurance, like young folks who may think they are invincible, will pay a modest penalty.
People who like the insurance they have keep it. In the long run, health care costs will go down as everyone is covered. Chronic illness will be nipped in the bud. Emergency rooms will no longer be the source of primary care for the working poor. Medical conditions will be treated on the front end rather than on the back, after costs have spiraled out of control.
There are tradeoffs and there will be glitches to iron out, but in my opinion, more of us will be better served than not. And some even say, horror of horrors, that it is a moral and religious imperative to make sure that in the richest country in the world everyone has access to affordable quality health care.
All that is really scary. No wonder some members of Congress, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and including our Congressman, Tom Rice, are so frightened. After all, it may work and take its place alongside those other demons, Social Security and Medicare.
And my hunch is Republicans are scared that if they don't demonize the Affordable Care Act, they might stir up the ire of Tea Party activists and find themselves with an opponent in the primary next year. So, they position themselves so no one can threaten them on the right.
This Halloween I might just go as Sen. Cruz. Now that is scary.