Peace of mind is an important part of freedom

The right has long tried to appropriate the concepts of “freedom” and “liberty” into their proprietary lexicon. And why not? The right is home to libertarians who want the freedom to oppress others economically and socially without a burdensome government apparatus telling them how much to pay their workers at what age, or which kinds of people they can discriminate against. They also want the freedom to avoid taxes and any requirement that they be concerned about the general welfare. Any laws should be basic property protection and apply to everyone without burdening the betters and “job creators” in society. After all, as Anatole France once said, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

But, of course, freedom means other things, too. It means opportunity to do things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. It means peace of mind. It means knowing that you can go to a job and be reassured that your children will receive a good, safe and free education. It means being able to plan your life, knowing that you won’t go bankrupt just because you get sick.

Case in point:

The Medicaid program, already the nation’s largest insurer, has quickly added millions to its rolls since the start of Obamacare’s coverage expansion. And it appears that Medicaid enrollees are generally happy to have coverage, though many are encountering roadblocks to receiving the care they want, according to new research that provides one of the earliest insights into people’s experiences under the expanded health insurance program for low-income Americans.

All the study participants said they feel better off with free or low-cost Medicaid coverage, and they worry less about being able to afford bills or see a doctor for ongoing health problems. The majority said they’ve already used their coverage and feel healthier because of it.

That is what freedom looks like. Not the ability of a hedge fund billionaire to buy another 10 yachts because he was “freed” from the “burden” of paying taxes to support Medicaid. Medicaid is peace of mind. It’s freedom.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.