Dr. Mark J. Tyler’s Dec. 19 column, “Start small to fix health care,” misleads readers by stating the oft-heard misconceptions that “The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) appears to be the exclusive domain of the Democratic Party,” and that he “does not remember one idea or suggestion by the Republicans that was included in the final document.”
Yes, the ACA did not receive any Republican support in Congress. But at its core are the very ideas that have been advocated by eminent Republican leaders for the past century, starting with progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt, and continuing through centrist Republicans such as Richard Nixon, Robert Dole and Mitt Romney. Like “Obamacare,” their health insurance proposals relied very heavily on private insurance companies rather than on direct government payment. (In fact, Obamacare does not provide any new public options as alternatives to private insurance.)
So President Barack Obama, in an overeager attempt at compromise, began the process of health care reform by offering a set of proposals that historically have been associated with the Republican Party, rather than offering bolder ideas such as a Canadian single-payer system or extending the Medicare system to all Americans.
It is an indication of how very far the Republican Party has shifted to the right and of how rigidly partisan and obstructionist it has become, that a law as profoundly conservative as the ACA would be regarded as a partisan measure.