July 26, 2013

Letter: Not a bargaining chip

— Glad to read that The Daily Citizen intends to educate readers on the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare. We need it! In the absence of sound data, we’re presented with incorrect, unsubstantiated “facts,” misleading interpretation and willful deceit which rushes in to generate anger, doubt and fear, none of which promote sound judgment.

New ideas have always been targeted by a multitude of varying interests. In 1936, Social Security survived the slings and arrows of our parents and grandparents. Many said it was too radical; cost too much; was socialism and would ruin America.

Thirty years later, when Medicare and Medicaid were proposed, the same voices sounded the same alarms. But as those programs unfolded, Americans saw how fixing the minuses and building on the pluses brought us to a realization that as participants we had become beneficiaries, not victims.

In 2013, we once again are hostage to a whirlpool of strident, divisive, ill-informed voices which are quite good at creating doubt, suspicion and fear. At the same time, we have limited trustworthy sources to inform ourselves about the facts demanded for charting our future.

The words we hear currently are somewhat different from those of 1935 and 1965, but with little exception the arguments have not changed. The one new criticism insists that government has no right to demand our participation. If that were so, wouldn’t we then insist that we as proprietors and guardians of this country have no responsibility to underwrite the cost of police and fire protection, or mobilizing and equipping a military that keeps us safe, or providing the teachers who educate the children we expect to become tomorrow’s leaders?

The current wrangling, back-biting, deceitful battle being fought over incomplete and often incorrect data is distasteful at best and disgraceful at worst. As we observe similar behavior in other nations, we’re quick to proclaim that it couldn’t happen here. Really?

Perhaps we need to find better use for our tax dollars than to vote 33 times to repeal legislation that is already law. Should we not feel well served as we welcome the educational releases on the pages of The Daily Citizen in order that we become more knowledgeable and confident in our personal choices?

And as the act is more fully unfolded in January, can we then use our newfound understanding to direct our legislators in efforts to amend shortcomings and build on strengths as they surface? This is our health care, not a bargaining chip. Good, bad or indifferent, it belongs to each of us.

Al McGovern