Eugene T. Paslov: Republicans paint false narrative about health care reform
I’ve noticed that a few opinion letter writers have taken issue with my view that the recent mid-term election was not a referendum on President Obama’s policies. They contend – somewhat vehemently – that the Republican sweep was a result of the dissatisfaction with the president’s policies, particularly health care reform. I don’t think so.
As a friend of mine has noted, they are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
As I’ve stated previously, Republicans have been very successful in spreading a “negative narrative” about the president and his policies. They have convinced many citizens that just saying “no” to everything will make all the president’s policies disappear. Fortunately, the facts don’t support those “devoutly to be wished for” opinions.
Health care reform is a case in point. We have close to 50 million people who have no health insurance coverage. We have thousands who die every year because they can’t afford health care. A shameful fact for a wealthy, civilized world power. For 80 years, presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, have tried to get health care reform enacted. Universal health care is an economic issue, not a political football. They had all failed. President Obama succeeded. The Congressional Republicans were outraged. Sen. DeMint, R-S.C., declared that President Obama’s health care reform would be his “Waterloo.” He worked hard to make it so.
The “negative narrative” convinced many that the health care reform was a bad idea. Some 52 percent of likely voters did not support the president’s health care reform. But when voters were asked about individual provisions included in the bill – no denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for children until age 26, requiring coverage for high risk conditions, and providing support for those who can’t afford coverage – the voting public indicates strong support.
Wendell Potter, a former insurance company executive, revealed in a recent Newsweek essay that America’s corporate insurance executives “played” the Obama administration. In public they supported the administration’s health care reform (killing the public option because they didn’t want competition) but generally supporting the administration’s bill. It was a charm strategy. Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Potter tells us that the industry had a “deception-based PR strategy.” They supported the administration publicly but also encouraged the Republican leadership to create “astro-turf groups to disseminate misinformation and lies.” The insurance lobby was in control. They worked all the angles.
The Republicans will not rescind the health care reform bill. The insurance industry will let the R’s play out their politics but will prevent them from actually killing health care. It’s worth billions. That’s a fact.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.