In “Opposition to the Affordable Care Act is Rooted in Bigotry,” published last week in the Huffington Post, writer Matthew Lynch claims that opposition to the Affordable Care Act is based in bigotry.
Lynch makes what could have been an interesting piece into a sample of straw man arguments to attribute all criticism of the ACA to “deep-seeded racism.” Lynch accuses dissenters of hiding behind “excuses,” such as liberty violations and ineffectiveness, when the real issue is, “the larger elephant in the room—racism.”
His argument hinges on one big reductive fallacy. Since higher percentages of America’s uninsured are minorities, protesters must be white and thus, according to Lynch, not immediately impacted by the act. He explains, “For people who care not for the demographics that will most benefit from the law’s enactment, Obamacare becomes something that is about ‘them’ and treads on the individual liberties of ‘us’ in the process.”
First off, Lynch is just plain wrong to claim minorities stand to benefit most from the ACA. The chief beneficiaries are actually pharmaceutical and insurance companies. With millions of previously uninsured Americans now required to be customers, drug companies expect to dramatically increase profits despite hurdles they faced before the legislation, like competition with generic drugs. This is unsurprising, since the ACA’s chief architect, Elizabeth Fowler, was a vice president at the nation’s largest health insurance provider prior to drafting and helping implement the ACA. Fowler then changed jobs, taking a senior position at Johnson&Johnson. Criticism of this obvious conflict of interest can only be described as bigotry if we’re talking about being prejudice against the merger of state and corporate power.
And, sorry, but saying the ACA does not “immediately impact” non-minorities is a claim “rooted in bigotry.” To Lynch, all naysayers are white, middle class Tea Partiers motivated by a desire to punish “slacker minorities.” He fails to acknowledge the demographic that is perhaps most negatively impacted by the ACA: Millennials. Twenty-somethings will now pay 235% more for health insurance plans that cover less and come with staggeringly high deductibles, which is devastating for young people with serious health issues. And that’s not even taking into account the hidden taxes they’ll be paying to help cover the costs of “government funded” healthcare.
This is the point, though. Younger, healthier people are meant to subsidize older, sicker enrollees. Never mind that, with crippling student loan debt and diminishing job prospects, our position is more precarious than our parents’ was. We can no longer make the relatively safe gamble to forgo insurance when we’re young to improve our long-term financial prospects.
To wrap things up in a pretty bow, Lynch’s argument marginalizes the experiences of minorities who are opposed to government overreaches like the ACA and uses their racial identity to isolate them from their ideology. Racism still exists in America, of course, and some attacks on the ACA and Obama are undoubtedly racially motivated. But Lynch’s decision to dismiss concerns about the ACA and its implications in favor of an appeal to lazy stereotypes doesn’t just misdiagnose racism; it contributes to it.