Despite ACA’s benefits, some in the gay community have been fooled by conservatives’ use of ‘Obamacare’ label, focus on individual mandate

My partner and I exchanged text message versions of high-fives upon hearing about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the key provisions of the Affordable Care

Act, a really positive law that the GOP has labeled “Obamacare.”

No matter what you call it, it is a good thing for LGBT people and that’s why I was surprised when a friend lamented that it had been upheld.

“What’s your problem with the Affordable Care Act?” I said.

“If they can force you to buy insurance, they can force you to buy all kinds of things,” he defiantly replied. “It’s the end of freedom in this country.”

Obviously he had been listening to a lot of Fox News, but I choked back my bile and tried to get to the root of his objections.

“So do you want insurers to deny you insurance because of a pre-existing condition?” I said.

“Well, no,” he said. “I’m HIV-positive and if I ever lost my coverage, I wouldn’t be able to get it again.”

“So you want the lifetime limits to stay in place on your insurance?”

“Well, no,” he replied. “My drug bills alone have pushed me really close to that already.”

“So you want yearly benefit caps to stay in place?”

“Well no,” he said, starting to get uncomfortable. “I have to dig out of my pocket every year to cover my medical bills that go over that limit already.”

“Then you must want insurance companies to be able to arbitrarily cancel someone’s insurance because they are sick?”

“Oh, hell no,” he barked. “They did that to Bobby, and he ended up bankrupt trying to pay his medical bills, and he wasn’t even HIV-positive; he had cancer.”

“Yes, I know.  I guess you must want insurers to be able to deny coverage to transgender people because they categorize ‘transgender’ as a ‘condition,’ right?”

“That would leave my friends Mitch and Roberta in a bind,” he said.

“Then it must be the mandate to purchase health insurance if your employer does not have a plan in place?”

“Well, I can’t get insurance with my conditions,” he said. “That’s why I keep working at my dead-end job. You know that!”

“Under the Affordable Care Act, you could.”

“What’s that?” he said, blinking like a deer in the headlights.

“That is the act the Supreme Court upheld last week.  It had all those provisions in it that you liked.”

“Oh, my problem was with Obamacare, not that law.”

And there you have it!  Frame the ACA as “Obamacare,” and people are less likely to look at the details, but asked about specifics  most people, including LGBT folk, like it.  That’s why the conservative pundits and politicians call it “Obamacare” and why they only focus on the individual mandate.

The reality is, the ACA has a lot of provisions that are really positive, like the extension of insurance coverage for young adults up to age 26 under their parents’ insurance, and which will benefit children of LGBT parents as well.

The act is so beneficial for our community that Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services stated, “the Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.”

So why are so many people afraid of it? Well, it’s the slight of hand being pulled by the GOP that has turned the ACA into Obamacare, and turned a positive ruling by the Supreme Court into an “affirmation of more taxation.”

We have to be extra vigilant or we can fall prey to their flim-flam, because they will try even more tricks to turn this victory into a defeat.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at       

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 6, 2012.