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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: Truth often hidden in health care debate

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Grumpy Man has never been happier.

It was Christmas in February for him last week after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported on some of the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act (see Care, Obama).

The report estimates about 2.5 million workers could – repeat, could – decide to skip the whole 9-to-5 thing by the year 2024 while still holding on to their subsidized health insurance. In other words, they might choose to use a lawful government benefit.

Stand back! Grumpy needs room!

To hear him tell it, that means a couple million able-bodied spawn of Obama slackers will soon be lounging by the pool, sipping Chardonnay, and handing you the insurance bill with a mocking laugh. I’ve checked out a lot of conservative commentary on this issue in the last few days, including one in this newspaper, and that seems to be the gist of what they think.

The outrage would be justified if that image was remotely close to the truth. Like most things in the health-care debate, it’s not.

Yeah, some will certainly scam the system. There also will be plenty more who choose family over work, something they might have done a long time ago if they weren’t job-locked because of the need for insurance. Others might choose to leave the grind so they can start a business without fear of losing coverage – you know, family values, free enterprise, and all that stuff we hold dear.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, hardly a flag-bearer for national health insurance, certainly latched on to that concept in 2009 when he said, “So, the key question that ought to be addressed in any health-care reform legislation, is are we going to continue to job lock, or are we going to allow individuals more choice and portability to fit the 21st century work force?”

We all know the AFA has problems. No one is even trying to fix them, though. They just scream. There is so little leadership and political will in Washington, they all seem like company-line puppets anyway.

To see just how messed up this dialogue is, let’s go back to the 2008 race for the White House. The Heritage Foundation – hardly a stronghold of the liberal elite – reported on John McCain’s health-care plan with the headline, “More Power to Families.”

He proposed giving universal tax credits to families, not all that different from the direct subsides we have now. He wanted national competition for insurance customers, which we have now in the marketplace. He wanted the states involved in helping the most vulnerable people.

Now, consider Mitt Romney. He was governor of Massachusetts when that state started a health-care system that became the model for Obamacare.

Let’s repeat this: The last two Republican nominees for president had progressive health-care plans that are not much different than what we have now. Voters in the GOP primary states chose these men to carry the party’s flag in the race for the White House.

When considering what the Republican base really wants, perhaps party moguls should remember that.

That doesn’t fit the narrative, though.

Why work toward commonsense solutions that help everyone? It’s much better sport to cast a wide net over something that hasn’t happened yet, and then announce that a group of people you never met are freeloaders.

That’s Grumpy Man’s game. No one plays it better.

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