George Graham

How Come the Health Care Law Works in Massachusetts?

I sat up in bed when I heard Sandra gasp. But there was no health emergency. She was tranquilly lying beside me, reading the local paper.

“What’s the matter?” I asked her.

“It’s this man, Cal Thomas. I can’t stand him,” she replied.

You probably recognize the name.  Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist, one of those right-wing trolls who spin events any way they can to make President Obama look bad.

I don’t read his blather, but Sandra does. She reads everything in the paper, even letters to the editor from local cranks.  Even when they make her gasp.

What made her gasp in this case was the apparent suggestion by this Cal Thomas character that Obamacare will lead to euthanasia.

Thomas didn’t come right out and say it. He’s not as brash as people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, who claim the new health care law includes a provision for “death panels.” But he slyly makes the case that America’s godless President is leading the country down a mercilessly secular path.

To get there, Thomas has to go via Belgium. He reports:

Last week the Belgian Senate voted to extend a 2002 law legalizing euthanasia for adults so that it includes incurably ill children.

That’s quite a stretch. But I’m sure you’ve noticed that those anti-Obama trolls will go to the ends of the earth to find material they can use against the President.

“Are they euthanizing children in Massachusetts?” I asked Sandra.

“Not that I’ve heard,” she responded.

So the idea that they might be euthanizing the old and the sick in far-off, totally unrelated countries triggers dark fears in this pundit’s little brain, fears that the editor of the local paper thinks worthy of sharing with us?

Yet, as far as I know, the Affordable Care Act (which has the right wing on the warpath) is not based on anything from Belgium – or anywhere else in Europe. It’s a peculiarly American concoction that originated in the far-right Heritage Foundation think tank. And the President settled on it – instead of introducing a single-payer system like Canada’s – to placate Republicans.

How could the Republicans object, he figured, when  a Republican governor had implemented it in Massachusetts?

But they fooled him. They are tearing the new law to shreds regardless.

What beats me, though, is the fact that the media keep spreading the Republicans’ speculative alarms when anyone can plainly see the law that Obamacare is modeled on is working fine in Massachusetts. A recent Huffington Post  article by Steve LeBlanc reports that the Massachusetts law:

…has resulted in more people visiting doctors, more employees getting coverage through their jobs and an increase of insured residents to 98 percent, far above the national average, including virtually all children and senior citizens.

The article describes how other states are considering the Massachusetts experience as a model for their own health care reform.

Meanwhile, the “news” is full of false alarms about virtually the same law under a different name. I guess a rose by any other name doesn’t smell as sweet after all.

Click for the offending column.

Click for the Huffington Post article.

Click for a sane look at the new federal law.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for