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Don’t believe misinformation about health care

The “health insurance or jail” letter in Wednesday’s Tribune led me to conclude that its author must have been one of the recipients of the famous mass email from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

The big headline at the top of this email read, “Health care mandate will require imprisonment and fines for Americans who can’t afford to purchase insurance or pay hefty government penalties.”

It refers to a tax to be imposed on Americans who can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy any. Low-income Americans are exempt.

Despite Republican exaggeration and hyperbole, any penalties involved would be for refusing to buy insurance even though you can afford it, then refusing to pay the alternative tax as well. Needless to say, those who back this bill hope nobody pays the tax, but opt instead to become customers of a health insurance company.

Lacking a public option, lowering costs by increasing the pool of insureds in this way was the best of the few remaining options.

Although much has been given away to appease conservatives, the bill is still worth passing.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will reduce deficits by $132 billion over the next decade, and will result in 94 percent of citizens and legal residents having health insurance by 2019. The current figure is 83 percent. That’s worth doing.

Spreading misinformation and flinging accusations and insults is easy.

Convincing irresponsible buck-passers to behave responsibly is much harder. Barack Obama, in his own words: “I think the general broad principle is simply that people who are paying for their health insurance aren’t paying for people who simply choose not to, until they get sick, and then suddenly they expect free health insurance. That’s a basic concept of responsibility.”

The idea of taking responsibility for ourselves should neither anger nor frighten us.

Unlike greed, dishonesty, coercion and the inability to care about anyone but ourselves.

Abby Fowler