Dear Indiana Democrats,
There's been a lot of speculation lately about how you should position yourselves in relation to the president. It seems that Barack Obama is making many of you nervous. The guy's popularity (never on solid ground in Indiana) has taken a nose dive. Republicans are expected to use the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) like a whoopee cushion to embarrass you.
We all know about the problems the ACA had with its roll-out. Not only that, the law was all but written by private health insurers and big pharma. This made it more about protecting these industries' profits than reforming our health care system. Finally, the Obama Administration has had to offer up so many tweaks, extensions and other revisions to the law, peoples' confidence in its reliability has been tested.
Republicans have made things worse. Instead of working to strengthen the law, they have engaged in a concerted campaign of misinformation in an effort to sabotage the law's chances for success. Remember Death Panels? That's not Obamacare. That's what you get when your private insurance company denies you coverage for a treatment or medicine.
As for Medicaid, thanks to our governor's decision to reject federal monies, many Hoosiers who need coverage will have to do without - or move to Kentucky.
You should call Republicans on this - and on their one-note threat to repeal a law that has already helped people with pre-existing conditions, kept young adults on their parents' plans, and enabled the self-employed to finally get coverage that really is affordable.
But this isn't all you should do. I know that many of you are probably relieved that the ACA passed its first real test on March 31. President Obama predicted 7 million people would sign up for coverage by that date, and that's what happened. While we still don't know how many of those folks were young, or previously uninsured, this is still good news. It shows that a substantial number of Americans want a better deal on health coverage than they've been offered under the old employer-based scheme.
That scheme is part of the problem. One of Obamacare's weakest links is the extent to which it perpetuates employer-based plans. This reduces company profitability and cuts employee take-home pay. For large nonprofit organizations, it's a budget buster. The ACA's unwillingness to cut the knot linking health care with employment was a huge failure of nerve.
You Democrats should admit this. Then say what needs to be done: Provide Medicare for everyone.
Scott Weiland is campaigning for universal Medicare as he runs for an open US Senate seat in South Dakota. Medicare is tried and true; ask anyone over the age of 65. By making it available to every American, we would automatically expand the coverage pool, driving costs down, while protecting providers through federally guaranteed payments.
We know this works. Why not make it work for everyone? Democrats, don't run away from Obamacare. Call it the first step on the road to security Hoosiers really want.