Thursday, January 29, 2015

Obama’s Zombie Cat—Healthcare

You may have read the story of Bart, the cat whose owner found him in a puddle of blood, hit by a car and (according to him) obviously dead. Bart's owner was so distraught, he couldn't stand the thought of burying him, so he asked neighbor to dig a shallow grave. Five days later, Bart showed up, wounded and hungry, having clawed his way out of his grave. Endnote: Bart lost an eye and had some other damage but the vets say he’ll live out another of his lives comfortably.

The metaphor to Obamacare is pretty low-hanging fruit, but I’ll pick it anyway.

The President’s healthcare program was a healthy cat, run down in the streets by special interest groups specifically to make it ineffective. Presidents since Herbert Hoover had all tried to bring a sensible National Healthcare program to the American people and all such attempts had died in the street in a puddle of blood.

President Obama was determined not to be among them and, in desperation to get something passed and in the hope that this something could later be improved, he allowed the only feature that could make it work to be legislated away. That feature was the so called Public Option—a parallel form of healthcare available to everyone that put the insurance companies and middlemen out of this very expensive equation.

Obama’s healthcare cat now lay in the street in a puddle of blood and Republicans promptly buried it, sure that it was dead.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act clawed its way out of that grave and is with us today.

Twenty million Americans previously without it currently have healthcare. All stories are local and my friend Paul, from Chicago, saw his premium drop from $1,300 to $500 per month. It works. It works badly compared to its original intent and it’s lost an eye, but it works and struggled home to meow at the back door for millions in 28 states that allow some form of Obamacare or Medicare expansion.

The cat may not be out of the bag, but it’s certainly clawed its way out of the grave. The day may yet come when a Public Option is demanded that will change both the costs and the methods by which Americans receive healthcare.

But such a comprehensive reform may need nine lives. In the meantime, here’s the update on Bart the cat.

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