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Jackson: Look who loves Obamacare

Obamacare will lead to “a brand new marketplace where Nevada consumers and small businesses can shop for, compare and purchase quality health insurance plans with ease,” providing “access to insurance for all Nevadans” in a manner that is not only “consumer-focused,” but “innovative” and “business-friendly.”

You’re probably wondering: What kind of commie-sympathizing godless liberal know-nothing would attempt to foist such anti-American drivel down the unsuspecting throats of innocent Nevadans?

It turns out that all that gushing optimism can be found on the website of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, the clearinghouse for key Obamacare provisions in Nevada, set up and operated by … the administration of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Sandoval likely has no idea that’s what the state he governs is saying about Obamacare. This isn’t some big important thing demanding the Governor of Reno’s immediate and focused attention, like a sweetheart web-poker deal desired by Sandoval’s cronies. It’s just health-care reform.

Still, the official Nevada characterization of Obamacare’s features contrasts starkly with Tea Party Sens. Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, the Larry, Curly and Mo of what used to be called the world’s most deliberate body. They’re threatening to shut down the federal government unless Senate Democrats and President Obama agree to defund, which is to say kill, Obamacare.

Even most Republicans want nothing to do with such bone-headedness, which presumably explains why Nevada’s Dean Heller and Joe Heck have thus far refrained from joining the pod people.

But just as the typically disengaged Sandoval can’t be too highly praised when part of his government sings Obamacare’s praises, we shouldn’t rush to assign sense and sensibility to Heck and Heller.

Heck has voted to repeal Obamacare about forty-eleven times, most recently on Aug. 2, in the very last vote the House took before beginning its annual, French-style five-week vacation. Heck’s frequent posturing as something other than just another reliable vote for the Tea Party agenda would be more plausible if he wasn’t, well, just another reliable vote for the Tea Party agenda.

Heller has repeatedly called for repealing Obamacare. And for all you aforementioned godless liberals who love to point out that the Republicans don’t have any alternative proposal for assuring that millions of uninsured Americans receive some sort of health-care coverage, you might be surprised to know that Dean Heller does too have a solution, which he detailed in an interview with the Review-Journal during last year’s campaign: “Free enterprise will be the answer,” Heller explained.

But of course. Do you need medical treatment? Let the market decide.

In Heller’s defense, such banality is the state-of-the-art Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans are correct, in a broken-clock-twice-a-day sort of way, when they say the health-care reform law is flawed. But when Obamacare is meaningfully changed, it won’t be Republicans and the right who change it.

Harry Reid predicted as much during his mini-charm offensive with local media earlier this month, when he told R-J columnist (and former CL editor) Steve Sebelius that employer-provided health care would ultimately be supplanted by something along the lines of a single-payer system. Albeit an imperfect one, the Affordable Care Act was “yes, yes, absolutely yes” a step in that direction, Reid said.

Obamacare would have been a much more significant step away from a profit-driven health-care system and toward universally accessible and affordable care if the law would have allowed the people to buy into Medicare instead of shoveling mandated premiums to a private sector insurer whose mission is to collect premiums, not cover health care. And if Reid was half the backroom wheeler-dealer people say he is, the bill would have included such a public option — assuming the majority leader was sincerely committed to it. During the ACA debate in 2009 and 2010, Reid’s position on the public option was mutable and confusing. The same goes for Obama. And both men, in a profound misreading of the 21st century Republican Party’s militant extremism, allowed the process to spiral out of their control for month after month after month. The Democrats couldn’t even shepherd through a watered-down proposal to let some folks buy into Medicare a few years early.

Such additional reforms — a public option and expanding Medicare eligibility — are the obvious next steps toward a truly decent health-care system (those reforms are also the best ways to alleviate or erase the myriad “glitches,” as Obama calls them, endemic to such a byzantine insurance reforms).

The Affordable Care Act will never be changed in a positive way as long as Joe Heck’s Republicans control the House. But hopefully within not too many years, perhaps as early as after the 2016 election, Democrats will start trying to strengthen health-care reform.

Barring a dramatic and, for now, unforeseeable transformation of the GOP electorate, Republicans will dig in their heels and scream “socialism” and “government takeover” and blabbitysnort snort snort, same as they’ve been doing since the start of Obama’s first term. They’re quick to condescendingly claim a superior understanding of history, yet can’t recognize when they’re on the wrong side of it.

HUGH JACKSON co-hosts The Agenda on KSNV Channel 3.