The re-election of President Obama and, just as important, the Democrats’ retention of control of the Senate, means not only that health care reform can and will go forward, but that the groundwork can be laid to move beyond the Affordable Care Act. Had the Democrats lost, the insurance industry and other special interests that profit from our dysfunctional and inequitable health care system would have been back in the driver’s seat, and they would have slammed on the brakes and shifted the car into reverse to go back to the (for them) good old days that led to the U.S. having the most costly system in the world while 50 million of its people were uninsured.
The president’s re-election does not mean, however, that Obamacare will necessarily be implemented as Congress intended. Those special interests will now redouble their efforts to try to scare Americans into believing that the provisions of the law that might affect their profits will result in higher premiums. Expect to hear from insurance companies, for example, that Congress will have to allow them to continue their practices of discriminating against people because of their age. If not, coverage will become unaffordable for young families. Take it from me, they are very skillful at making us worry.
The president and congressional leaders will have to anticipate the special interests’ coming PR and lobbying campaigns and be ready with effective campaigns of their own to ensure that reform goes forward, not backward.
Wendell Potter left his job as head of communications for Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to speak out against what he sees as an industry corrupted by Wall Street expectations and greed. He’s now the Center for Media and Democracy’s senior fellow on health care, a senior analyst at The Center for Public Integrity, and author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. Potter first spoke with Bill Moyers about the healthcare industry back in 2009 and more recently was featured on our website in a Q&A about The Affordable Care Act’s Supreme Court challenge.