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Public enemies

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"I will be guided, first and foremost, by the fact that before I turn my back on the 200,000 to 250,000 Arkansans who don't currently have health-care coverage, it would take a pretty dang strong argument for me to say no to those people."Gov. Mike Beebe, on whether he will expand the state Medicaid program, as is authorized and funded by the federal Affordable Care Act.

It was not the governor's most eloquent utterance, but among his most important, and welcome. As there is no strong argument to deny health care to our neighbors, we can be assured they'll be covered. And we can be grateful there are still public officials like Governor Beebe and President Obama who believe a government should help its people. Shrill and selfish factions disagree.

What sort of people are those who would deny medical care to sick children in America, who would even in some cases spend millions of dollars to prevent this life-saving treatment? Oh, the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Republican Party — you know the sort. Cold-hearted and deep-pocketed.

These misanthropes aspire to win Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as the presidency for Mitt Romney, in the hope that that they can undo the Affordable Care Act. The notion that even people who aren't rich should get to see doctors is offensive to the Kochs and their crowd. Where is the joy in being rich, they say, if you don't get to watch other people suffer because they're poor?

It's an indication of how much money these people have to spend that they could purchase Romney as their candidate. He's immensely wealthy already and he's the father of Romneycare, the Massachusetts health care system that is the model for the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called Obamacare). Running against President Obama, Romney now must repudiate the very thing he championed, the greatest accomplishment of his life. It can't be pleasant.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 30 million more Americans will have health care with Obamacare than without it. With Obamacare, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. With Obamacare, women can't be charged higher premiums because of their gender. With Obamacare, people won't lose their health care when they lose their jobs, something that's happening to more and more of us as private equity outfits like the one Romney ran take over American companies and send the jobs overseas, as Romney did so often.

The Affordable Care Act is not even fully effective yet, and 64 percent of Arkansas children have already been able to maintain or improve their access to affordable preventive services. Almost 23,000 young Arkansas adults have been able to stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26. The Affordable Care Act is like Social Security, Medicare and the Civil Rights Act — America at its best.


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