March 24, 2010
The ObamaCare 'Acceptance' StrategyBy Richard J. Little
There is a huge new public relations offensive being unleashed by the Democrats and their allies in the progressive left, one designed to limit their short term election losses and defeat any significant ObamaCare repeal efforts. It is imperative that all conservatives and opponents of government-run health care understand the Democrats' and progressive left's short-term political strategy so that we do not inadvertently aid them or fall victim to the new health care myths that they will be propagating.
The new plan is designed to accelerate the public through a mass analogue of the "seven stages of grief" (shock, denial, anger, etc.) and quickly get to "acceptance" of their federal government health care takeover and looming European-style, cradle-to-grave social welfare state.
The Democrat/progressive spin machine is going to mount a massive disinformation campaign with assistance from their surrogates in the MSM, unions, and "community groups" designed to change the subject. They are counting on getting you cooled down about the unconstitutional takeover of the health care system and usurpation of your personal freedom and individual liberty. And they will constantly hammer that this takeover is "the law of the land" that will "never be repealed" and must be accepted as a fait accompli. Anyone who disagrees with them will be portrayed as "dangerously angry" and a potential threat for "violence" in order to paint dissenters as "extremists".
Obama is going to hit the road this week. Yes, he will be selling the supposed "benefits" of taxpayer-funded and government-run health care. But mainly he and his surrogates will also be trying to "dispel fear and myths" in order to get you to "calm down" and accept your new transition from citizen to subject.
Here are the DNC main talking points (all false, of course):
While all of these statements may have a small grain of truth or are technically correct in a very narrow sense, they are in no way accurate descriptions of how this government health care takeover works.
ObamaCare is essentially the same compulsory insurance scheme that has been foisted on the public in the states of Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. When you peel back the veneer of supposedly "private" insurance coverage, you discover that for all practical purposes, compulsory insurance is every bit a government-run health care system and functionally amounts to being a cleverly disguised version of a single-payer system.
This is the second part of the progressives' "acceptance" strategy: Simply confuse and misdirect the public about how their new governmental control structure works. There are hundreds of confusing structures, programs, and financing mechanism included. All are designed to divert people into discussion about ancillary components or into wonkish analysis of the monetary aspects. All of this is designed to obstruct people from a real-world understanding of how the system works in practice.
ObamaCare amounts to a de facto federal takeover of the entire medical and health insurance system through regulation, forced participation, and financial control over individual citizens and the major health care interests. At best, the ObamaCare structure will function as a shadow single-payer system. In the worst case, the massive amount of government control can be unleashed at any time to destroy the entire health care system in this country in a few short years.
Functionally, ObamaCare gives the federal government three major powers that are characteristic of all government-run health care plans (single-payer or fully socialized medicine).
First, there will be forced participation in the new health care system for all individuals and employers. The individual and employer mandates force participation in what in practice amounts to a nationalized, "one-size-fits all" health insurance plan, with little hope of "opting out" for the average citizen. This is the universal coverage aspect of government-run health care.
Second, there will be massive government subsidies to individual citizens (available to people who have incomes up to 400% of the poverty level) to fund their insurance coverage. This is medical welfare for the middle class. This is designed to create massive dependency in a huge voting bloc in order to buy future complicity for further "progressive" reforms in health care and other areas.
Third, there will be over 150 new agencies established to implement federal regulatory control over every aspect of the health care system. There will be boards to ration care in the overtly government-controlled programs (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, TRICOR, and SCHIP). Rationing will occur for private insurance through powers delegated to the new "czar" (Health Choices Commissioner) for the government-controlled insurance market euphemistically dubbed the "exchange." Doctors will be "guided" into providing only the government-approved treatments by "Comparative Outcome Boards." Finally, the HHS Secretary is given power to regulate health insurance companies out of existence at any time. And this power is huge.
Simply put, the federal government will be controlling the health insurance industry just as it controls the banks and auto companies who received bailout money. While it will still technically be true that health insurance companies will be "private" in the sense that there is private management and for-profit operation, they will be so constrained and controlled by government that they are quasi-public. Politicians and technocrats will really be calling the shots. There are few practical distinctions between a true single-payer system and a compulsory insurance scheme funded through a very small number (only the very largest of the insurance firms will be able to survive under the massive regulatory structure; in Maine, a similar plan reduced the number of insurance firms in the state from twenty-one down to two in less than ten years!) of pseudo-private insurance companies.
The bottom line for the individual citizen is that control over your own health care choices is gone. All significant medical, insurance, or cost questions will now be matters of politics. Groups that have significant political influence and can deliver votes or money will hold sway (think unions like the NEA and SEIU, big interests like Big Pharma, and pressure groups) over unorganized individuals .
The weakest citizens who cannot easily speak out come out the worst: the unborn, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled.
The stealth nature of the control of the health care system benefits the progressive politician in many ways. The Democrats can keep up the fiction that "this is not government-run health care" as a campaign selling point while at the same time creating a huge new shakedown source for campaign cash in the captive insurance industry. And if things get ugly with costs or medical care, they can still blame "greedy and evil" insurance firms and "the free market" when nothing of the sort was allowed to exist.
The level of control provided by all the regulations, mandates, and other features of ObamaCare will allow them to either continue the fiction or change a few regulations and push us into single-payer by default at any moment.
The cleverly crafted timing of implementation significantly reinforces this message. The public will see exactly nothing of tangible meaning happen for the near future. The supposed "benefits" of mandated insurance and the accompanying skyrocketing premiums (in Maine and Massachusetts, they are currently twice as high as the national average and are increasing at twice the rate of national medical inflation), higher taxes, longer waiting lines, and rationed care will not be happening until 2013 through 2018. This is the final trump card for the Democrats and the progressives. Since nothing overtly onerous will happen to the vast majority of Americans, they are counting on everyone settling back into their individual "comfort zones" of working, watching TV, and acclimating to the regime of health care.
Richard J. Little is a resident of Lawton, Oklahoma.