Clarence Page: Give Obamacare a chance

BY CLARENCE PAGE Published: August 2, 2013
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Why are congressional Republicans so determined to repeal Obamacare? They're terrified that, once Americans have it, they might want to keep it.

That's what happened after Medicare was passed in 1965, when the idea of government involvement in health care coverage encountered a lot less resistance that it does today.

Recent polls indicate a larger majority of Americans are opposed to the president's Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and their opposition is more intense than that of its supporters.

That's encouraging news to Republican hard-liners who have been threatening to cause a government shutdown unless Obamacare is defunded.

So why is the president whose staff nicknamed him “No Drama Obama” still smiling?

First, there's a silver lining in the gloomy polls. The National Journal's poll, for example, finds that, while most Americans don't think Obamacare will help them personally, they want to give it a chance anyway.

And why wouldn't we? Americans have long been irritated by the skyrocketing costs, shrinking coverage and millions of uninsured in our overly complicated private health care system.

House Republicans have voted 39 times to repeal Obamacare, only to be blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Yet Republicans have refused to fully engage this important debate by offering a workable alternative. They'd rather just say “No.”

“We should not be judged on how many new laws we create,” House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday's CBS' “Face the Nation.” “We should be judged on how many laws we repeal.”

Yet I suspect that the Grand Old Party's stubborn opposition to Obamacare is due for an overhaul after Oct. 1. That's when the law calls for every state to launch an “exchange,” the online “marketplace” in which people will be able to shop for insurance.

Subsidies also will be provided under the law to help those who can't afford premiums on their own.

What happens to GOP opposition then? I doubt Republican lawmakers will be all that eager to take away coverage from millions of people who are getting help with cancers, heart conditions and other life-threatening ailments that they previously could not afford.