Health insurance is a basic economic issue for all Americans, not just the 30 million people without coverage.
Republican efforts to turn repeal of the Affordable Care Act into political theater exemplify the party's detachment from ordinary lives in troubled times.
Easy assumptions about access to affordable care disappeared along with jobs in the recession. Medical problems have no respect for employment or party status. The most frugal family budgets are vulnerable.
Republicans, with their repeal vote in the House of Representatives and Wednesday's charade in the Senate, truly reveal how much they do not get it. They rant about Obamacare as they willfully distort the fiscal impacts, and fail to offer a single idea of their own. Random speeches do not count. Where is their star-spangled legislation to provide relief for anxious families?
The more Americans learn about the Affordable Care Act, the more they warm up to its opportunities. Parents are relieved they can keep children on their policy until age 26. Creation of insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions is a bright light, along with rebates for seniors with high prescription costs.
Despite the fetid distortions of GOP propagandists, the health-care act attracts small businesses because tax credits enable them to pay for employee coverage.
GOP failure to help trim insurance costs is the real job killer. U.S. businesses compete against foreign companies that do not have the same health-care overhead.
Insurance companies, meanwhile, try not to blush over the business headed their way. Everyone is covered, everyone pays, and that spreads the costs and the risks. Cha-ching.
Indeed an old, insurer-friendly GOP idea is back in the news. In the 1990s, the Republicans were big proponents of mandated coverage -- everyone has to have insurance. The idea is to prevent people from gaming the system. Instead, get everyone covered and paying at some level, and costs go down.
Mandated coverage provides the cash flow to eliminate denials for pre-existing conditions and putting lifetime caps on benefits.
The more the public learns about the Affordable Care Act, the more it approves. An AP-GfK poll found opposition down from 47 percent to 41 percent. Support is up to 40 percent from 38 percent. Among Republican respondents, opposition is down from 61 percent to 49 percent.
The White House is working harder to get the word out.
Republicans are turning the law into an intraparty squabble, pointing fingers at the presidential aspirant who has raised the most money, Mitt Romney, because he was governor of Massachusetts when the state adopted a health plan with mandated coverage. Oh my.
A gaggle of Republican state attorneys general suing to stop the legislation are having mixed results, with federal court rulings evenly split. Many more federal judges dismissed the legal challenge and never took it up.
After a trek through the appeals courts, the final stop for the Affordable Care Act is the U.S. Supreme Court, and the outcome for the contested notion of mandated coverage is not clear.
A federal judge in Virginia caused a stir with a 78-page ruling that requiring coverage exceeded congressional authority. UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler explained to me the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution has long been interpreted to give Congress the authority to pass laws that broaden regulatory effectiveness.
The high court, indeed Justice Antonin Scalia and his conservative colleagues, have invoked the clause to allow regulation of medical marijuana and to keep sex offenders behind bars.
America's health-insurance dilemma is not going away. The new law does not fully take effect until 2014, but the public already sees the possibilities. Republicans offer no alternatives. Legal challenges exist, but they will require epic contortions to support.
Lance Dickie is a columnist for The Seattle Times. Readers may send him e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.