Is the GOP reaction to health reform an auto-immune disorder?

In an autoimmune disorder “the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.” (Medline) I see evidence of a similar response in the GOP’s attack on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). And former Republican Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist seems to agree with me, although he doesn’t use the auto-immune analogy.

Many Republicans seem to view PPACA as a left-wing government takeover of the US health care system imposed on them by President Obama. The ObamaCare label is a handy shorthand term, but it’s very misleading. In truth, PPACA is a centrist piece of legislation chock full of Republican ideas including preservation of private health plans and provider organization, mandates to purchase insurance and the deployment of exchanges (i.e., competitive marketplaces) to allow individual states to experiment with different approaches. By attacking PPACA Republicans are attacking their own ideas.

The attack on exchanges is especially ironic (and harmful), because states that don’t set up their own exchanges risk having the federal government come in and do it for them. There is a perverted logic that says we want the feds to do it because they’ll fail. But how does that help the state in the end?

Frist said the resistance is misguided, noting that the exchanges were originally a Republican idea.

Here’s what Frist has to say in the LA Times (Bill Frist calls for GOP to get over opposition to healthcare law)

“As a doctor, I strongly believe that people without health insurance die sooner. Sure, they can eventually go to an emergency room. But it is often too late. They wait longer to get a breast lump checked out. They wait until their nagging cough turns into a fulminant pneumonia. They skip preventive care and then show up to the ER with severe, costly, late-stage symptoms that are harder and more expensive to treat,” he wrote.

“State exchanges are the solution. They represent the federalist ideal of states as “laboratories for democracy.” We are seeing 50 states each designing a model that is right for them, empowered to take into account their individual cultures, politics, economies, and demographics. While much planning has yet to be done, we are already seeing a huge range in state models. I love the diversity and the innovation. … Simply put, state exchanges represent a distinctly American opportunity to improve our local communities and at the same time help our nation avert a major crisis. Let’s take the plunge.”

August 3, 2012

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