The average conservative supports the aspects of a single-payer system... so long as you call it something else
Watching Congress for the past five years has been like that first time you went to your in-law’s family reunion. Between the bickering, arguing, snide remarks, drunken brawls and that cousin that has taken every opportunity to rub the inside of your thigh; you find yourself in one of two positions. Either you’re looking at your spouse and hoping that insanity isn’t hereditary or you come to the terrible realization that you feel right at home.
I live and work in a very red part of Southern California. People may think California is all hippies and rainbows, but if you head East over the mountains you will find yourself among a very rural and conservative population. Every third truck has an anti-liberal bumper sticker and my Obama stickers have earned me lots of one-finger salutes.
However, since I live in such a conservative area I have ample opportunity to speak to every-day Joe Sixpack conservative Americans. I do my best to put up a good fight but when it’s six-on-one there’s only so much I can say and it’s exhausting.
Behold, I bring you good news! Yes, by overwhelming majority the mere mention of the Affordable Care Act causes many of them to shoot beer through their noses. They hate it! They absolutely hate it and everything about it. Well, they hate Obamacare, but they like the part about pre-existing conditions.
Oh how they hate Obamacare, except that part about no longer getting dropped by your insurance company because your care cuts into the company’s profits. Obamacare is going to destroy America; well except for the part about getting a refund from your insurance company because they only spent so much on your actual health care. Those parts are fine. Obamacare is socialism, but they like the idea of a competitive market to get the best price.
I hope you’re catching the trend here. In my conversations with multiple extremely conservative coworkers I have stumbled upon the basic core of why they hate the ACA. It’s not the healthcare reform, or its goals. What they hate is the part where everyone is required to purchase healthcare.
What they hate is the government telling “them” what to do. They completely understand that the only way the ACA will work is if it’s set up for everyone to purchase health insurance. They get that. They don’t like it, but they do understand.
For my conservative colleagues the problem with the ACA is the government forcing them to purchase a good or service. They view Obamacare as a government regulation on the people instead of being a government regulation on the insurance companies. They view the ACA as a gift to the corporations by forcing Americans to buy their product.
Honestly, I can personally and completely understand that point of view and I have to admit their argument is valid regardless of how much it sets my teeth on edge.
So, I prodded deeper with the following question: “What change(s) to Obamacare would you propose which would reduce or eliminate your opposition to Obamacare?”
The answers surprised me. By and large, the one single change to Obamacare that they would fully and wholeheartedly endorse would be this: Eliminate the need to pay an insurance company for healthcare by creating a flat tax on every person and company which the government then used to pay hospitals and doctors for services as well as covering prescriptions for everyone.
Remember, this is coming from devout conservatives. Think about that for a moment. Conservatives are in favor of the regulations on insurance companies as described in the Affordable Care Act, but rather than force the people to purchase insurance from corporations, create a government pool which everyone pays into in order to cover health care costs.
The first time I heard this, it set me back a bit. But I have consistently heard the same thing from numerous Republicans, even those that are convinced that Obama is from Kenya.
Here’s where it gets interesting. When I then ask them “So what you’re saying is that you want a single-payer system?” they respond with a resounding “NO” as if I just asked if I could date their daughter. Then, when I rephrase it: “Well then, how about Medicare for all?” they smile at me as if I’m finally coming around to the right way to think about things and tell me “Yes, of course.”
This fills me with hope. When this whole mess started those on the extreme left desperately wanted the ACA to implement a single-payer system. At the time, I honestly had no idea what that system was. I generally consider myself to be an educated man, but all of the terms thrown around in the public debates made my head swim.
I believe a vast majority of the American population felt the same way. The arguments for and against the system were too “intellectual” and so people decided if they were for or against the Affordable Care Act based on the filters provided by their favorite media channel.
As a result, the same people who are completely against Obamacare are simultaneously for most of the provisions in it, and while they are completely against a “single-payer system” they are completely in favor of “Medicare for all” without realizing that it is the exact same thing.
We’ve seen a lot of this in the news recently. The story that leaps into my mind is the story of the man in Kentucky who hoped that his state’s Kenect was “better than Obamacare.” (it’s the same thing)
The problem folks, is the messaging and information being provided. For every one commercial explaining the honest facts about Obamacare, it seems as if there are ten that are downright inaccurate and misleading.
Add to that the cult-like following of conservative media who’s audience believes that all other media is nothing but liberal lies and you end up with a population that not only doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act, but they don’t understand even the basic terms of the conversation.
With that unbelievably depressing revelation there is still hope for universal healthcare In the US. The undeniable fact is that those conservatives who absolutely believe Obamacare will destroy America are more than likely to support the exact same sort of reforms that liberals do, they just don’t realize it.
If you break it down for them and question them reform by reform, they actually like the majority of the law. The key to its successful acceptance by these conservative people is the efforts of people like you and me to stay calm and engage them in an informed conversation.
Step one is get your facts straight and have references. Know the terms and what they actually mean. Step two is to stay calm and explain in terms your conservative friend can understand. Explain to them what a single-payer system is. If you can do that, you will have planted the seed that will allow further amendments to the Affordable Care Act because at least that one person will understand the terms in the public media.
We must work together because our brothers and sisters want exactly the same thing we want, they just don’t know it. Believe it or not, the Republican opposition to Obamacare is based on the exclusion of the exact same things liberals wanted it to include in the first place.
Frankly speaking, there’s hope in that.