Editorial - Get informed before speaking out
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 08:07
Finally, after months of speculation and anticipation, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, largely upholding the historic health care overhaul.
Ever since its controversial passage in 2010, the bill has faced an endless array of questions. Chief among these was whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court would deem President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement unconstitutional. Now that we finally have a definitive answer to that mystery, it’s time for Americans to ask another question: What exactly is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and how will it affect me?
This question seems simple enough. It also seems like a question we would have answered by now. After all, it’s been more than two years since the bill was signed by President Obama, and the proposal was perpetually debated for more than a year before that. Surely the public would have, at the very least, a basic understanding of this bill by now.
Unfortunately, and as anyone observing the public debate on this issue could tell you, this is far from the reality. According to a recent Harris poll, a plurality of Americans oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and a majority favor a repeal of the statute’s individual mandate provision.
However, when asked about specific provisions of the legislation, the poll’s respondents revealed a shocking ignorance regarding what the bill actually does. More than a third of those polled believe the bill creates a new government-run heath care plan (it doesn’t), 29 percent believe it will cut Medicare benefits (it doesn’t do that, either) and 27 percent believe in the ominous, but also fictional, "death panels." Furthermore, a majority of those polled said they supported most of the key provisions in the bill when asked about them independently, including the prohibition on insurance companies denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, the provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, and the tax credits to help small businesses provide their employees with health care coverage.
Thus, it appears much of the opposition to this bill stems from an ignorance of what it actually accomplishes. This paradoxical opposition to the bill, despite agreeing with its goals and key provisions, highlights a debilitating problem in our society that must be addressed.
In the information age, when access to an infinite trove of knowledge only requires an Internet connection, this brand of ignorance is inexcusable. This country will be significantly better off when we all fulfill our responsibilities as citizens of a democracy and educate ourselves on the issues before we take a stance on them.