Emily Timbol

Fiction Author. Good at making stuff up.

Finding Discourse In The Healthcare Ruling


My high school AP government teacher gave me an assignment today. Mr. Lee apparently doesn’t care that I graduated from high school almost ten years ago, but I guess that’s what happens when you friend old teachers on Facebook. Since he was one of my favorites, I decided to humor him and take the assignment. Here’s hoping I get an “A.”

His assignment was thus:

…because you are well informed on such matters and because I totally agree with your assertion about the insensitive nature of civic discourse, I would like to see what you could come up with for a truly fair and balanced response to today’s SC decision from both conservative and progressive points of view.

In other words, what should they say and, most importantly, how should they say it. Maybe throw in a statement from the political center as well.

But remember, throw out any bias you have.”

Obviously, he was referring to the historical 5-4 decision the Supreme Court made to uphold the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare.) In case you have been in a coma inside a hospital without CNN for the past two years, the Affordable Care Act can be summed up like so:

  • Beginning in 2014, all Americans will be mandated to have or buy health insurance, either through their  employer or private company.
  • If they choose not to acquire healthcare, they will be fined $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater. By 2016, it goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income. 

  • Starting in 2014, the law makes it illegal for any health insurance plan to use pre-existing conditions to exclude, limit or set unrealistic rates on coverage.

  • The federal government is set to spend more than $1 trillion over the next decade to subsidize coverage and expand eligibility for Medicaid.

  • As of 2014, under the law, small firms with more than 50 full-time employees would have to provide coverage or face expensive fines.

  • Many people have complained about the “hidden” mandatory changes included in the law; like requiring all major chain restaurants to display the calories in menu items, or requiring special break times and rooms for breastfeeding mothers.

There’s about four million other points to make, considering the law was over 2,000 pages long. But breaking down the implications of the ruling was not my assignment. My assignment was to fairly, without bias, present reactions from both sides. Here’s an example of some that I saw from my Facebook friends:

THE PEOPLE LOSE…….Supreme Court decides on ObamaCare! OBAMA WINS!”

This law fails American families—it raises premiums and taxes, drives up spending and debt, undermines the doctor-patient relationship, tramples on religious liberty and expands the role of government in our daily lives.”


A tax… really? I can’t believe we have come to the point in this country where the federal government can mandate you buy a product. Is it Nov 6th yet?”

I thought the Affordable Care Act was about healthcare. Who knew it would be such a deathblow to democracy and christendom?”

It’s not about healthcare, and it’s not about the constitution. It’s about how your “team” won or lost today…at the end of the day, we’re not even talking about what might be the best way provide medical care to the people who need it.”

Facebook contains a mixed bag of reactions, but a safe assumption to make is that any person who loves caps lock, is probably not going to challenge your mind. Shouting, even in electronic form, is not conducive to discourse. 

Personally (and this counts for the “progressive” reaction Mr. Lee asked for) I’m elated at the Supreme Court’s decision. My family has been impacted by the high cost of healthcare, and my dad has a pre-existing condition that is incredibly expensive to treat. During my twenty-seven years on this planet I’ve gone through many different economic brackets, and have personally felt the fear of not knowing if I’d have enough money to pay for medication or doctor’s visits. I’m college educated, and have worked either part of full-time, depending on whether or not I was in school, since I was 16. 

Currently I have medical insurance that costs a fraction of my income, and I am incredibly grateful for it. Even if it’s not perfect. Just recently, I had to fight with my insurance company, over many frustrating phone calls, to get them to agree to pay for my birth control. They “didn’t understand why I needed it.” That I am a married woman who isn’t ready for children yet is apparently not enough. Thankfully, the nurses at my doctors office are wonderful, fought for me, and found a loophole they could file under to get me covered.

It’s impossible for me to separate my own opinion from my experiences. I don’t have any misconceptions about the plan being perfect, but I do think it was time to reform healthcare, and that this made the most sense from an economic and ethical stand point. To me, this is not a religious issue (abortion has not been and will not now be covered by the government) but one of practicality. All Americans at some point in their lives will need medical care. This is why it’s not a “product” we’re being forced to purchase. Since the current medical system is so broken, and the millions of Americans who are uninsured are not only suffering greatly, but costing the government billions, something needed to be done. Obama did something. I support it.

At the same time, I can understand why some of my friends do not. It is going to cost the American tax payers. Americans who have small business will be under financial pressure with the new health care requirements, and some will lose their companies. This measure is a broad sweeping stroke to force all Americans to do something (almost all -there are some exceptions) and this gives the government an unprecedented amount of power. All those reasons are valid ones to oppose.

The biggest challenge though, and the one that Mr. Lee raised, is finding a way to respond fairly and with discourse. Especially for those of us who call ourselves Christian. Regardless of what side we’re on. The only way we can all raise to this challenge is by respecting one another. Not just as photos behind Facebook status’s, but as people who are directly affected by this issue. Either medically, financially, or both.

For everyone that has a loved one with an expensive pre-existing condition, there is someone who knows a small business owner who  fears going bankrupt, if the government forces him to pay for his employees healthcare. Mr. Lee helped me to realize that. That doesn’t change my mind about supporting the ruling, but it helped me to realize that this issue is about people on both sides. It’s easy to attack those who oppose healthcare for being uncompassionate, but if I fail to see their economic concerns, I am just as guilty. While I can support the ruling because of my care for people, I need to realize that those on the other side could be opposing it for the same reason.

I probably won’t get an A+ on this assignment, because it was impossible for me to throw out any bias I had. By completing it though, I not only learned something, but found a way to open my mind. And that is definitely worth a passing grade.

Right Mr. Lee?

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