Annette John-Hall: Some common sense prevails on health care

People hold signs during a rally at Daley Plaza in Chicago on Thursday, June 28, 2012. In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obamas landmark legislative achievement. (AP Photo/ Nam Y. Huh)
People hold signs during a rally at Daley Plaza in Chicago on Thursday, June 28, 2012. In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obamas landmark legislative achievement. (AP Photo/ Nam Y. Huh) (AP)
Posted: June 30, 2012

Well, now.

So how's that hope and change thing working for us?

I'd say, after Thursday, pretty darn good.

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to uphold President Obama's besieged signature legislation - the Affordable Care Act - constitutionally validated the law that cleared the path for providing universal health care for everyone.

Which should be as American as apple pie.

You'd think.

Yet since the historic law passed two years ago, conservatives have spit out "Obamacare" as if the very word were arsenic.

And their message has been clear and unrelenting: It's bad for you.

Remember the death-panels fright they concocted?

Now they've moved on to Repeal and Replace. Catchy.

Seems to me the lack of access to decent care is the real poison crippling the nation. And why do they decry the individual mandate - which requires everybody to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty - as though it's some kind of communist affront to freedom?

People, please. Don't believe the hype.

Don't denounce what's in your own best interests by letting politics - or personal bias - get in the way of common sense. Don't think we aren't already paying plenty for those who use our overcrowded emergency rooms as primary care.

Why should we care? Try this:

Children can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.

People with preexisting conditions can get coverage.

Insurance companies can't kick you to the curb if you get sick.

Small businesses can get tax credits to help with insurance.

Peace of mind is worth the price of insurance. As is sharing the load.

To me, that's real freedom. In the richest country in the world, and the last major country to figure out how to provide health care to most of its citizens, the Supreme Court, with all its politics and legal parsing, came down on the side of a greater good.

This ruling is for my pal Leslie Esdaile Banks, award-winning Philly author of fiction, romance, and vampire novels. Leslie actually wrote Obama a letter in 2010 complaining that insurance premiums for her and daughter Helena had skyrocketed 100 percent for no reason, forcing Leslie to forgo her own insurance so she could pay for Helena's.

Because of her letter, Leslie got to introduce the president at a rally at Arcadia University. But sadly, the following year, a nightmare came true for Leslie: She contracted late-stage adrenal cancer, and friends opened a charitable fund in her name and held fund-raisers to pay for her medical bills. Leslie died in August. She was only 51.

And finally, my friend and fellow journalist Denise Clay can exhale. Denise, 47 and a diabetic, underwent a pretty scary hospitalization during Thanksgiving. A serious foot infection could have been avoided if she had insurance to make the scheduled doctor's and eye appointments that every diabetic needs.

As a full-time freelancer, Denise was unable to pay $238 a month for her diabetes medicine and a COBRA premium that was unaffordable because of her medical condition.

"The whole preexisting-condition thing is a real problem," Denise says. "It's not like we woke up one morning and said, 'I'm going to be a burden on the health-care system.' . . . When you look at how much health care costs as opposed to ending up in the hospital for 39 days, it doesn't make any sense. Now I'm looking at $30,000 worth of medical bills."

She resists debating the topic with folks who believe so-called Obamacare is un-American.

"I've actually had people tell me that we should let people [who don't have insurance] drop dead," she says. "I tell them, 'You're saying this to someone who almost did.' "

What baffles me the most is that almost every poll indicates that while most Americans support many of the measures in the Affordable Care Act, more than half want to see it repealed, including seniors who stand to benefit the most.

For sure, the president didn't do the best job explaining the health-care law. And yet there's that element that chooses to blind itself with hatred for the black guy in the White House.

Even if it kills them.

"We're always talking about stuff that causes people to argue," Denise says. "We need to talk about stuff that doesn't make people argue, and that's the stuff people need."

You would think.


Contact Annette John-Hall

at 215-854-4986, Ajohnhall@phillynews.com, or

on Twitter @Annettejh.

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