“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling” (Proverbs 26:27). This ancient Hebrew proverb brings to mind the current Republican-controlled Congress and its 60 or so past attempts to destroy Obamacare.
President Barack Obama made the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) one of his key legacies as a new president in 2009. It passed on a straight party vote. Republicans in Congress hated it and have been trying to repeal it for the past seven years.
Republicans now control both houses of Congress and also the presidency. If they can ever confirm a new Supreme Court justice, they will control that judicial body, too.
The difficulty for them is that once such a large and important piece of legislation gets passed, expectations have risen. Millions of voters may take out their wrath on Republicans if their medical insurance disappears or medical costs spike.
The next year for Congressional elections is 2018 and it is not that far away. The Republican leadership is well aware of this political reality. They are in a real conundrum. They won control of the U.S. government due to their promise to repeal the ACA, but they know they may get voted out of office if they aren’t very careful in their repeal and replacement.
Obama must be quietly smiling at their dilemma and Democrats are gleeful.
Rather than accepting the fact of expanded medical care for millions of Americans and fixing the problems of such a large and complex program with bipartisan efforts, Republicans used their hatred of Obama to attack his key legislative legacy, trying to destroy it, knowing that he would veto it if they passed a repeal bill. That relieved them of the necessity of coming up with their own plan.
Adding to their current burden is President Donald Trump, who has promised a better and cheaper program with all of the good parts of the ACA and none of the negatives. That can’t be done.
Recently, Paul Ryan and the House came up with a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. He is calling it the American Health Care Act. Democrats are calling it Trumpcare or Republicare and are hammering the Republicans as bad guys who are planning to totally wipe out medical coverage for millions. The Congressional Budget Office came out with its estimate that 24 million Americans would be without medical care by 2026 if the AHCA is passed.
Republicans have promised to keep two aspects of the ACA: coverage for children up to the age of 26 and acceptance of pre-existing conditions.
The Republican plan is to make it individual and voluntary rather than everybody having to pay for medical insurance. Those who lapse their coverage will be penalized with a 30 percent surcharge. The Republican fear is that the young will opt out of healthcare completely. Without the healthy young, there will be no way to cover all the costs of the aging Baby Boomers.
Added to this headache, Republicans only control the Senate 52-48, not enough votes to avoid a filibuster without Democratic support. Additionally, conservative Republicans are objecting, saying the AHCA is just “Obamacare Lite.” They want to repeal Obamacare completely, while moderate Republicans are objecting because many of their constituents will lose medical coverage.
Those previous original supporters of Obamacare back in 2010 were AARP, hospital associations and the American Medical Association. They strongly object to the Republican plan, while pharmaceuticals and other special interest groups are licking their lips at the profits they stand to make from the changes.
You get the picture regarding the dilemma the Republicans are facing. The Republican mistake from 2009-16 was to oppose the ACA rather than work with Democrats to fix healthcare and make a really good bipartisan plan.
That’s the problem with political parties; they put the good of the party above the good of the nation. The result is that the Republicans have fallen into the pit they dug for Obama.
Now that the Democrats are out of power, they are copying the attitudes and tactics of the Republicans – thinking only of what is good for the party rather than what is good for the nation. Both parties have descended to the maturity level of rowdy children.
Someone needs to step forward and play the adult. It looks like that responsibility is going to have to fall on us, the American public.