Health care ruling changes national debate

DETROIT – Wow. How quickly the press changes their reporting.

With the Supreme Court ruling yesterday upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), today’s front section of the Detroit Free Press has the following headlines:

“Hospital execs promise improved care”
“Up to 500,000 more poor people will get coverage in Michigan”
“Many find hope in ruling”
“Many of law’s provisions already proving popular”

and a two-thirds page description of the law’s consumer protections already in effect and those still to come.

I was amazed.

Why hadn’t I seen such praises of the law before in the Free Press or other big media? How did momentum change so rapidly?

Yes, occasional pieces talked about the benefits, but nothing like this. Today’s extensive array of articles speak of how as many as a half-million of Michigan’s lowest income residents will get government-funded Medicaid insurance. They report that many are already receiving ACA benefits such as coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, seniors who get extra benefits and community health centers in line for extra funding.

Additionally, 10 insurers in Michigan who failed to spend more than 80 percent of their insurance dollars on medical care will be forced to mail rebate checks, averaging $214 each, to 114,000 residents. And in 2014, tax credits will help low to middle income people, who fall between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level, buy insurance – very impressive when you think about the 50 million people without any health insurance.

All in all, today’s reporting is a great breath of fresh air, but why such a big change?

Right-wing extremism, which demonizes and intimidates those with opposing points of view (to such an extent that one seldom hears those other points of view – except, for example, here at, suffered a big political defeat with the Supreme Court ruling.

Right wing Republicans have been attacking the health reform bill as un-American, an over-reach of big government, ridiculing it as “nanny state” politics and more. They have tried to paint President Obama as illegitimate, claiming both his birth certificate and his politics are foreign.

But with a ruling read by Chief Justice John Roberts, questions about Obama’s “legitimacy” become much more difficult. A signature piece of his presidency was given a constitutional, born in the U.S., stamp of approval.

After the election of Obama in 2008, we may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Right-wing Republicans did not, and they obstructed every progressive piece of legislation Democrats introduced. With Thursday’s court ruling the dynamic begins to change – if we act now.

We should be asking how to turn yesterday’s victory into a bigger one. How do we fight to implement the best features in this law and improve those areas that need it?

How do we use the ruling to emphasize the main question is not how big government is, but rather, is government working to help people or not?

Yesterday’s ruling also lends new momentum to defeat the Republican-backed, job-killing Ryan budget, with its emphasis on corporate profits, privatization and a dismantling of the social safety net. That budget runs counter to the intent of the ACA.

Momentum is shifting, a new debate is possible. The 99 percent, not right-wing extremism, won a big round.

Photo: Organizing For America volunteers collect signatures July 3, 2009, for President Barack Obama’s health care reform initiative, which eventually became the Affordable Care Act. (Teresa Albano)


John Rummel
John Rummel

John Rummel covers events in Michigan for the People's World. Following politics from a young age, John grew up in the Midwest, moved east and has now returned to his "roots." It's not politics-only for John; he loves sports, the outdoors and a cold beer or two!