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Own Worst Enemy? Conservatives Can’t Agree on a Health Care Replacement
We’ve all heard the well-known cliché, “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” This is often the case when you’re talking about relationships and it’s a common and tragic lament for those faced with the emotional loss of a loved one. Where it doesn’t seem to apply, at least not in the current political environment, is with much of the legislation and programs the current administration and the Republican Congress are looking to repeal or roll back. Chief among these is President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March of 2010 and has survived numerous court challenges as well as 52 attempts to repeal it by vote in Congress during Obama’s tenure. It would be a poor analysis, however, if the best thing a “so-called” expert can say about the Affordable Care Act is that it’s a “survivor.” It’s been far more than that. More people in the U.S. have health insurance than ever before due to the landmark legislation. In fact, as of last September, the uninsured rate was a record low 8.6% because of the law. Its promised repeal and replacement with “something terrific,” a familiar if not vague and misleading trope of candidate Donald Trump’s during his successful Presidential campaign, could very well leave 24 million Americans without insurance. That’s 24 million people who most definitely appreciate what they’ve got and don’t want to lose it.
It’s important to note that, while repeatedly voting to repeal the ACA throughout the last six-and-a-half-years, the Republican Congress knew full well that President Obama would veto their actions. As a result, conservatives never had to come up with a plan to replace it with. It was an easy way, without consequence, to make political points with their base, showing hardcore right-wing constituents that they “meant business.” But even as calculated as these “attempts” were, one would have thought that after almost 7 years they would have devised an insurance system to their liking. Well, they haven’t, certainly not anything that all of them can get behind.
Sure, there have been a variety of right-wing ideas floated by various members for discussion but the fact remains, conservative legislators have never agreed on what would be the best approach to take. This fact was brought to light when former Republican Speaker of the House, the retired Congressman from Ohio John Boehner, speaking on a panel at a health care industry event in Florida, predicted rather boldly that Obamacare will NOT be repealed. Stating that Republicans have never been able to agree on a proper health care program in his 25 years in Congress and repeal without a proper replacement means, “you’ve broken it.” He went on to say,“…they’ll fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it.”
But the backlash for “Repeal and Replace” has only just begun. Pressure is building on legislators to back off their threats to Obamacare. Often when Congress recesses, members, who don’t go on vacation, host town hall meetings with their constituents to answer questions and get a feel for where their local voter bases stand on a variety of issues. With the political discourse in America at a fever pitch, certain Republican Congressmen have decided to face the music. One thing has become abundantly clear, the angry people mobbing these community meetings, many of which are Republicans, ALSO know exactly what they’ve “got” with Obamacare, well before it’s gone and they’re not taking the threat of repeal lying down. Thousands of people are openly questioning their conservative representative’s possible motivations for replacing a program that, while imperfect, is a mostly effective way of getting more Americans the health care they need, especially if they’ve had a pre-existing condition that previously kept insurance unaffordable or out of their reach. It’s beginning to look a lot like the "accomplishment" won’t be worth the political damage repeal would cause and that fixing the current system makes more sense, despite its potential as another “Read My Lips” broken campaign promise.
I carry Covered California, an ACA insurance plan, for my family and it’s hardly perfect. The rates continue to rise and most of our doctors don’t accept the insurance. Drug prices for non-generics are out of control and anything a member of my family must undergo potentially exposes us to balance, or “surprise” billing from a doctor I’ve never met, who also doesn’t take the insurance, but was essential to that particular procedure. Big Pharma has been unwilling to negotiate their rates while it simultaneously and rather successfully lobbies the federal government to keep cheaper foreign-made drugs out of the U.S.. Doctors don’t like the negotiated payouts and states have been slow to regulate a doctor’s ability to bill patients for uncovered services, which two recent studies indicate is a major culprit in the rising cost of health care. Escalating deductibles are also a developing problem with the Obamacare.
But with all the issues, Obamacare is a fantastic start, giving millions of Americans an opportunity to see a doctor more affordably than they would have been able to otherwise, especially those with conditions that would have made it impossible for them to get insurance at all. Repealing the law without a clue as to what to replace it with will cost American jobs, make it less healthy and even put lives in danger. The uproar over this issue is bi-partisan among voters as the town halls have shown and even some cracks in the Republican armor of potential replacement ideas are starting to show.
Republicans are simply their own worst enemy when it comes to health care. Without a conservative consensus, it looks as though their best bet is to give the people what they want, a modified version of the Affordable Care Act.
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