For months now, the right has made a point of noting that Obama does not talk about the Affordable Care Act. They argued that because the policy did not poll well, the president was running away from his signature piece of legislation. They considered it a sign of weakness. Any concern that they might have had on their own part due to Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan serving as the model for the ACA was alleviated when they nominated Paul Ryan for vice president. Ryan and his knowledge of the ACA and his own plan for Medicare provided cover for Romney. Republicans felt strong in their strategy.
But on Tuesday night the Democrats fired back. Nineteen speakers on devoted at least a portion of their speeches to reaffirming the virtues of the Affordable Care Act. At least three proudly called it "Obamacare."
The Democrats are going to talk about health care. They are going to defend the ACA. And they are going to show that Obama cares! The Democrats are not going to allow the ACA discussion to be solely about the numbers. They are going to make it about leadership, about vision, and they are going to make it personal.
Michelle Obama recalled that her husband "refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president."
"He didn't care whether it was the easy thing to do politically," she said, "that's not how he was raised. He cared that it was the right thing to do."
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told Democrats “to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe. This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying."
Stacy Lihn, an Arizona woman, told the story of her sick child, and how she could now purchase insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA “is saving my daughter’s life.” Her mention of the Supreme Court decision to affirm the law drew thunderous applause. “Governor Romney says people like me were most excited about President Obama the day we voted for him. But that’s not true. There was the day the Affordable Care Act passed. There was the day the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare.”
The ACA does not poll well, but the individual components of the act poll extremely well. Lihn explained how her daughter Zoe, born with a congenital heart defect, needed three open-heart surgeries which would, in all likelihood, push her close to, or past, her insurance company’s lifetime coverage limit, leaving the family unable to pay for the care she needs. Lihn said, “The letter arrived from the insurance company saying our daughter’s lifetime cap had been lifted. I no longer had to worry about getting Zoe the care she needed.
Subsequently, actor Kal Penn thanked the president "for giving my friends access to affordable health insurance".
So now the ball is in the Republican court. “The haters can keep on hating,” said Jim Manley, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's former press secretary.
The answer to the question is no longer whether we should repeal this law because we can’t afford it. Now the question is, if we repeal this law, what happens to the children of Stacy Lihn and parents like her across the country? What are you going to do about that, Republicans? If we repeal this law, we really will be hurting sick children. I know it now, I saw it on TV, and I heard her story. This is real. I know Obama cares! But do you,Republicans? What is your plan to make sure that we continue to have national health care? Please tell me American exceptionalism can solve this dilemma. If you don’t like it, there has to be a way to reform and make it better, not repeal it and put us back to where we were before.
All of our major allies, and all of the leading economies of the world have national health insurance. Surely Americans deserve the same level of service in our country.