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Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Time to Let It Work

Ron Pollack

Executive Director

To say the attacks made by opponents of the health care reform law are politically motivated is to do a disservice to the word "motivated." Surely there's a stronger word to describe just how rabidly opponents are working against millions of struggling Americans.

But I think the word that comes to mind when I describe these attacks is "irresponsible."

The latest attack involves two lawsuits – one in Virginia, the other in Florida – which opponents hope will overturn the Affordable Care Act on constitutional grounds.

But hold that thought for a moment...

Last week, health care advocates across the country got to celebrate a small, but important victory, when a federal court in Detroit directly addressed the constitutional "questions" surrounding the law.

Opponents asked a federal court in Detroit to issue an injunction that would halt preparations for putting the law into full effect in 2014.

But, the judge rejected opponents' claim, upholding key provisions of the new law, and confirming what we already know – that the lawsuits are nothing more than a politically charged, legally specious attack on the health care rights of Americans across the country.

Despite this affirmation in Detroit, the attorneys general and governors who are involved in the Virginia and Florida cases are hoping judges in those cases will rule differently. Make no mistake, they're doing everything they can to secure a ruling against struggling Americans. A ruling which would put politics squarely ahead people.

Sadly, obstructing major social laws is not a new strategy. It happened with the Social Security Act in the 1930s, with the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, and now it's happening with the Affordable Care Act.

As with Social Security and civil rights, these challenges will eventually fail. Legal scholars across the ideological spectrum say the Affordable Care Act is on solid constitutional ground. But while the lawsuits are proceeding, we risk losing focus on what's really at stake.

If we undo the Affordable Care Act, we'll be returning to a country where people with pre-existing conditions can't get health insurance coverage. Where insurance companies can cancel your coverage when you get sick. Where small businesses can't afford to cover their employees.

Is that what opponents of the Affordable Care Act want? Because that's what we'll get if they succeed.

Of course, it doesn't have to be this way.

Rather than spending time, energy, and taxpayer money fighting a law designed to protect Americans, opponents could put aside their personal, political gain, and join us in advancing the causes of struggling families.

Maybe that's asking too much in this day and age, but it doesn't change the fact that, after decades of waiting, Americans finally won the health care protections we so desperately need. It's time to spend our energy implementing these provisions so the law can do its job.

In short: it's time to let the law work.