Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Agree with Rick Santorum's comparison of the ACA and Apartheid, Sort Of (Cross Post with PUSH)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum actually compared the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as he calls it) to Apartheid South Africa.  Here is his quote as he was paying tribute to Nelson Mandela on Fox News was fighting against some great injustice. I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives — and Obamacare is front and center in that.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

On the face of it this seems to ridiculous to comment on but ol' Rick might be on to something here. First lets look at the word apartheid,  In Dutch and it's dialect Afrikaans it means apartness.  Our pre ACA health care system definitely resembled an apartheid system with access to healthcare tied to employment, ability to pay, eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid, veterans status, and charity.  For decades the US was paired with South Africa as the only industrialized nations without a universal healthcare program and also with the death penalty. 

After Mandela was released, the right to access to medical care was affirmed in their constitution and the death penalty was abolished.  While leading almost all African nations, South Africa still lags behind the US and other developed nations in life expectancy and infant mortality due to low per capita income and other factors such as the AIDS epidemic as can be seen here. A description of their health system can be seen here.

The US system has passed and is in the process of implementing the Affordable Care Act.  It does some to alleviate the apartness of our health care system with the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion.  However in Pennsylvania and other states, some governors are refusing to expand Medicaid or expanding it with strings attached.  Those who are still not eligible have to purchase insurance or pay a fine. There are subsidies for low income buyers who do not qualify for medicaid expansion but if they do purchase they will still be burdened copays and deductibles.  Single payer levels the playing field so everyone is no longer apart.  Until then apartheid remains in a modified form. Sen. Santorum does raise some important issues just not in the way he intended.

**Related Posts**. 

The Affordable Care Act Having an Impact in Some States but not Pennsylvania

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) having little effect on PA's Uninsured Rate So Far