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In a free webinar for citizen watchdogs last week, Hadley Heath described three ways that Obamacare could be repealed: by judicial ruling, through legislative action, or by “collapsing under its own weight.” Heath, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum who specializes in healthcare issues, focused on this final method of repeal, and the critical role citizens can play in fighting the new law.
Heath challenged citizen watchdogs to keep a dutiful eye on their state legislatures, as in order for Obamacare to take full effect, state governments must set up insurance exchanges and comply with other requirements by 2014. (Watchdog Wire is providing ongoing coverage of this process in Florida and Nevada.) If enough state governments delay or resist cooperating with these measures, the entire law could, as Heath put it, “collapse under its own weight.”
Thus, as a citizen watchdog, your first responsibility will be to hold your state legislature and your governor accountable, and enlist the support of your friends and neighbors by keeping them informed about what is going on in your state capitol, and explaining the effect that the Health Law will have on their coverage and their finances.
In order to hold your state legislature accountable, you’ll need to know who your state senator and representative are and how they have voted. This information is readily available at your legislature’s website. In many states, legislatures will vote on implementing portions of Obamacare, including the insurance exchanges, in the near future. You can convey the importance of these votes to your legislator by calling their office, attending one of their town hall events, writing an letter to the editor of your local paper, or requesting a personal audience (perhaps with a group of activists in your area, or a local chapter of a like-minded club).
A single citizen watchdog can make an impact, but to most effectively hold your state government accountable on this issue, you’ll need support from others in your community. During her webinar, Heath laid out a number of strategies to use when discussing Obamacare in order to maximize the effectiveness of your argument. Some points to consider:
- Know the difference between health care, which is provided by your doctor, and health insurance, which is often provided by your employer and is a method of paying for health care. Although supporters of the law claim it provides universal health care, the law deals only with insurance, which doesn’t guarantee appointments with preferred doctors or other critical aspects of health care.
- Know the difference between the current system of private insurance and the concept of free-market insurance. The current system is heavily regulated, has no price transparency, and doesn’t allow for competition in the way that a true free market would.
- Avoid using the term “Obamacare” around political independents. The term works well with a like-minded audience, but turns off some moderates. Try “the new health law” or “the President’s health plan.”
- On the same note, avoid the term “healthcare law”—because the law isn’t providing care for anyone!
- Supporters of the law refer to “no cost benefits” like women’s health screenings. In fact, these are hidden cost benefits—you pay nothing out of pocket for them, but they’re funded by tax money and higher insurance premiums.
Also, citizen watchdogs should know certain facts about the law. For example:
- Although the law isn’t expected to increase the deficit, that’s only because it includes $519 billion in new taxes, and $716 billion in cuts to Medicare.
- The law doesn’t insure everyone—in fact, 30 million people under 65 are expected to remain uninsured.
- As many as 9 million people could lose their private insurance, and most of them won’t qualify for Medicaid or subsidies.
Finally, when discussing the law with people skeptical of your position, don’t forget the human angle. Heath noted that many people respond better to stories and emotions than to cold facts and figures–especially women, who often make the healthcare decisions for their household. Be certain to emphasize that the government will now be part of decisions that were previously between doctors and patients, and that the new law restricts the amount of freedom people have to choose the health coverage that is right for them.
To hear these points explained in detail, and to learn even more about the health law and how citizens can fight it, check out our video of Hadley Heath’s webinar!
Tags: franklin center trainings, hadley heath, healthcare, healthcare exchanges, medicare, Obamacare, webinar
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