Philly Inquirer Business Columnist Jeff Gelles looks at some of the myths surrounding the Affordable Care Act in this morning’s paper:
[I]t’s easy to lose track of what makes Obamacare groundbreaking — its benefits and also its limitations. Today’s aim is to cut through some of the myths and misunderstandings that have arisen as a pressing national problem morphed into a focus of deep partisan rancor.
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Tea Party activists and their libertarian allies will tell you that it’s because we treasure our freedom, and that the mandate impinges on it, but I’ve always suspected a simpler explanation: We like to get stuff way more than we like to pay for it.
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A key myth about the new law was furthered by Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling, which upheld the mandate under Congress’ taxing authority. That same day, Rush Limbaugh called Obamacare “the largest tax increase in the history of the world.” Not even close, according to PolitiFact, which rated that a pants-on-fire lie. For starters, calling the mandate a tax doesn’t change the fact that a small fraction of people are likely to owe it — since most who can afford insurance would rather have it.
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Health care is close to one-fifth of the U.S. economy, and we spend about 50 percent more on it than any other industrialized country, yet we have vast gaps in coverage. Obamacare is an attempt — the best so far — to fix that.