Last week, a member of this writer’s household was briefly hospitalized for a scheduled surgery. That experience, along with the continued health care debate, provided plenty of time to contemplate what our elected officials would like to achieve and what it might mean for our futures. First, a little background …
Obamacare (a term originated by Republicans) was mainly about fixing problems in the individual insurance market, which includes people who don’t get coverage through work or government programs. Prior to that, insurance companies could – and did — deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them higher premiums. Obamacare requires insurers to take on everyone, sick or healthy, and charge the same price for a comprehensive plan.
In one of the provisions most derided and detested by Paul Ryan, everyone is required to buy insurance or pay a penalty (to make sure the market isn’t flooded with only the most expensive patients). To help people afford their plan, the law pays out subsidies to people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line. Additionally, it offers states more Medicaid dollars to cover adults at lower incomes (although many Republican governors have turned down that opportunity).
Here’s where we are now: a political party in control of the federal government can’t manage to pass a bill of their own creation. This is after they spent eight years griping about the ACA and made over fifty attempts to repeal it – with no replacement plan in the works. If nothing else, this reveals the truth behind much of their criticism. To be blunt, they weren’t taking issue with the contents of the law as much as they were bothered by (1) the fact that the law existed and (2) that it was associated with President Obama, who they irrationally hated beyond all measure.
When it became clear they couldn’t repeal the ACA without some sort of replacement, they grudgingly came up with one – sort of. There was no planning, no discussion, no public hearings — nothing. Paul Ryan threw together a pathetic excuse for a plan that enriched the already wealthy and insurance companies (“wealthcare”) and would have cost 14-16 million Americans their health insurance in the first year alone. Despite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating that Americans would be better off without any healthcare law at all than with the Republican plan, they set out (with the ”help” of 45) to promote it anyway. The entire process took seventeen days.
45 has repeatedly called Obamacare a disaster, even though he has no idea what’s in it and promoted the Ryan plan as one that would lower premiums and cover more people. Neither, of course, was true … but 45 has a track record of not knowing or caring what the truth is. He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare, and that’s what he was going to do, regardless of how much bull he had to spew forth. He seemed to have no problem at all with supporting a bill that contradicted his own campaign promises, although he never publicly acknowledged that reality.
45’s “administration” and the Republican Party are the disasters here. Each day brings another lie, another embarrassment, another bad idea from the White House, and Republicans in Congress seem incapable of governing effectively. They are, collectively, the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
Obamacare is not perfect, but it is far from being a disaster. Republicans need to stop peddling that lie, choose country over party for a change and work with Democrats on bipartisan solutions to the problems with the law. The voters would be grateful – and, undoubtedly, quite surprised.