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Blog of Mass Destruction

Keeping Your Doctor

By The Reverend Published: March 3, 2014

I can not and will not defend statements made about the Affordable Care Act by President Obama. The fact that Obama may indeed have oversold the ACA, in my opinion, only reflects the President's seemingly unexplainable habit of trying to please both sides of any dispute or disagreement.

Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act, itself, is a tribute to Obama's all-consuming desire to please both sides, simultaneously. Liberals were pleased with the Medicaid expansion provisions of the ACA and the government subsidies for health exchange purchasers.....both policy advancements realistically addressing the real problem with American health coverage today.....the uninsured simply can't afford it.

On the other hand, Obama calculated that conservatives would be at least somewhat accepting of the "market based" part of his ACA plan. The health insurance exchanges were originally a conservative idea which would meet the threshold requirement of conservative ideology....."profits before people." Thus, a public option was excluded from insurance exchanges and Big Pharma was still free to charge ever higher prices under the "no bulk discount for government purchases" hole in the ACA.

As a result of Obama's curious obsession with pleasing everyone, simultaneously.....progressives were lukewarm over the health care bill....and predictably, conservatives received the ACA as if it were a sure sign of the second coming of Hitler's Nazis. So much for attempts at bipartisanship.

One primary objection by the 'Obama is a tyrant, the ACA proves that' crowd has been Obama's claim that "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." Much wingnut hay has been baled and barned over that specific Obama claim. While I cannot defend that Obama claim....because, obviously, doctors move, retire, reduce the number of patients they see, die, and are, at least to some extent, still controlled by insurance networks who send them customers.....I can tell you about my own recent, personal, non-Obamacare-related doctor experience.

The Reverend household has private, employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. I've been seeing the same doctor for a number of years. When I called last week to schedule my yearly checkup appointment and prescription renewals, I was told that my doctor no longer accepted my SummaCare insurance.

Readers should take note here. My inability to "keep my doctor" had absolutely nothing to do with Obama's ACA. Instead, as millions of Americans have also experienced before the ACA, for-profit insurers and the feudalized system of insurance-networks those insurers lock doctors into.....is to blame.

Luckily, I turn 65 in October. My doctor's office informed me that even though they no longer accepted SummaCare, they still accepted Medicare patients....so, I have postponed my yearly checkup until October. Behold the irony. Medicare, a government health care program, will enable me to "keep my doctor", where private, non-ACA-related insurance would not.

Therein lies my objection to conservative bashing of the ACA over Obama-claims that "you can keep your doctor." Very few of us who are covered by private insurance can actually "keep our doctors" if those insurers decide differently.

So, where are the millions of conservative political ads railing against health insurers who are, daily, continuing to deny us access to our personal doctors? Why is it that campaigning Republicans and their media lapdogs never mention the absolute fact that what they are accusing Obama of doing under the ACA.....has been, and will continue to be, the very thing that health insurance companies do routinely......take away your ability to "see your doctor?"

Only crickets.

Those crickets have led other progressive bloggers to make statements like this....

I think we have to face the fact that everything that's wrong with the American health care system writ large will now be attributed to Obamacare by a large number of Americans.

Unfortunately, I think that's right. Not that the ACA is, or will be, responsible for everything that's always been wrong with our national health care system......as my personal account testifies. But because of well-heeled, conservative economic forces who will say and do anything to convince Americans otherwise.

Americans, by an overwhelmingly margin, believed that Saddam had WMD. He didn't. In the same way, many Americans have been convinced by similarly disingenuous claims that the ACA is "destroying America's healthcare system."

That's not true either.

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