And what was Reagan talking about? Medicare. Should it be enacted, he warned, the plan to provide for Grandma’s medical bills would lead to government seizure of all doctors’ offices and hospitals. An all-powerful state would dictate where Americans would live and what their jobs would be.
Of course the Gipper was only an actor, reading a tycoon-approved script. After he became president he vowed to protect Medicare, already one of the most popular and successful government programs in U.S. history—along with Social Security, another threat to freedom as the scripted Reagan saw it.
Some still do. A local Republican politician of my acquaintance once suggested that if I liked Obamacare so much I should leave the country. I responded that as the losing party, maybe he should emigrate.
And good luck finding a country without universal health insurance and with indoor plumbing.
It’s true that with Red State politicians dragging their feet and Republican congressmen whose offices routinely assist constituents to work out Medicare and Social Security problems telling reporters they’ll refuse to help with Obamacare, the short-term rollout could be bumpy.
Over time, however, the Republican right is setting itself up for epic failure. Partisan passions aside, people want and need reliable health insurance. Doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies need it as well.
This too: never mind the politicians. Health insurance companies are going to market Obamacare bigtime. Since the law mandates that 80 percent of premiums must be spent on benefits, the only way the insurance industry can enhance profits is by finding more customers.
It’s the American way.
Copyright 2013 The National Memo