Nel's New Day

November 21, 2013

GOP Sabotages Affordable Care Act

During the first four years of President Obama’s two terms, the GOP spent all their energy on keeping him from being re-elected. After that fruitless effort, they moved to repealing the Affordable Care Act—at least 46 times thus far. They plan to continue. A memo distributed to House GOP members, laid out the conservative strategy from closed-door sessions in mid-October called “House Republican Playbook”:

  • “Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” [Response: zero people will to being uncovered.]
  • “Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” [Response: it’s actually the opposite.]
  • “The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.”
  • “Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”

The media has bombarded the public with conservative complaints about the entire health care because the website was not working and people were lying about their inability to get covered. There’s been nothing in the mainstream media about the GOP sabotage surrounding the ACA as they do anything to stop people from enrolling:

  • Blocking necessary resources for implementation
  • Public misinformation campaigns
  • Discouraging public-private partnerships
  • Blocking Medicaid expansion
  • Blocking CMS nominees
  • Refusal to create marketplaces
  • Prohibition of “Navigators” from doing their jobs

Dana Milbank explained the “logic” of the “Republicans’ scary-movie strategy”:

“If they can frighten young and healthy people from joining the health-care exchanges, the exchanges will become expensive and unmanageable. This is sabotage, plain and simple – much like the refusal by red-state governors to participate in setting up the exchanges in the first place.”

The difference between a lie and a falsehood is intent: knowing the truth and saying the opposite because the goal is deceit is lying. These are lies from GOP leaders intent on destroying a Democrat-passed law:

  • Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): health care reform may lead to identity theft.
  • Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “premiums are going right through the roof.”
  • Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) consumers who visit healthcare.gov may become victims of fraud. Caucus Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): vulnerable constituents may be put “on the casualty list.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) even claimed that she, personally, lost her health care coverage. It is true that she has to switch to the current program because of an amendment from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). But then she would lose it in another year anyway because she isn’t running for Congress.

Milbank added, “Let’s hope the new health-care plans have generous coverage for anti-anxiety medication.”

Kevin Drum wrote:

“No federal program that I can remember faced quite the implacable hostility during its implementation that Obamacare has faced. This excuses neither the Obama administration’s poor decisions nor its timidity in the face of Republican attacks, but it certainly puts them in the proper perspective.”

  • Because 27 states don’t have exchanges, uninsured residents are pushed into healthcare.gov. The GOP party leadership urged governors to not participate with the intent to burden the federal exchange.
  • The ACA had zero funding for the development and implementation of the site, and GOP Congressional members refused to authorize any money. The government paid $70 million for the website although the media lied about the cost, vastly increasing the guesstimate for its cost.
  • The Koch brothers through Americans for Prosperity funded advertising campaigns to make lawmakers block Medicaid expansion in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In the 26 states that did block this expansion, five to eight million people make too much money for Medicaid but too little money to afford exchange policies.
  • This week, Alaska’s governor Sean Parnell denied health insurance to 40,000 people in the state through his Medicaid rejection. He complained about the cost although the federal government pays for all Medicaid for the first three years. People denied health insurance through GOP actions are going to provide some of the “anecdotal evidence” that ACA doesn’t work; they—and the media doesn’t tell them—that GOP actions are denying them affordable health care. Foundation for Government Accountability, with funding traced to the Koch brothers, launched a campaign to stop Alaskans from buying insurance policies through two websites, along with accompanying Facebook pages: dontenrollalaska.org and knowthefactsalaska.org.

Billionaires are telling middle-class people to go without health care so that they can prove they hate the president. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said:

“That’s a scandal – those people are guilty of murder in my opinion. Some of those people they persuade are going to end up dying because they don’t have health insurance. For people who do that to other people in the name of some obscure political ideology is one of the grossest violations of our humanity I can think of.”

Insurance companies are also participating in the anti-Obama, anti-health care campaign. Walmart-owned Humana sent customers threatening letters stating they had to decide, before people had access to information about ACA, whether to take the huge increase in health insurance cost or lose health insurance. Other companies canceled old plans to offer new ones at much higher prices. These insurance companies didn’t explain that the health care exchanges would give much lower costs for health insurance policies or that customers might be eligible for subsidies from the government.

Letters like these have nothing to do with the ACA. For years, insurance companies have sent letters trying to move people from reasonable deductibles to excessively high ones by threatening much higher premiums to keep the existing policy. As for increases, only federal law kept Blue Cross from increasing its charges by 43 percent in one year. The company is now being sued for misleading their customers. That’s the problem with private insurance companies: their sole goal is to make money off people who cannot afford their payments.

 Beyond these issues, however, are serious hacking attacks on the ACA website, more than a dozen which are being investigated. In addition, there was a report of a tool designed to put heavy strain on HealthCare.gov through Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS). A program called “Destroy Obama Care,” first reported last week on a blog by Arbor Networks, was found on a “torrent” file sharing web page. If this tool were used, tens of thousands (or more) of computers will try to use the website over and over and over again automatically.

The GOP is determined to govern by anecdote, as they read aloud emails of unhappy constituents regarding access to health insurance. If this is an appropriate way to decide the legitimacy of a law, they need to listen to the other side.

During the first two weeks of November, almost 60,000 people signed up for private insurance policies or Medi-Cal (Medicaid) in California—more than twice as many people in October. Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington are on track to exceed their enrollment targets. Washington enrolled over 50,000 people in Medicaid and another 6,000 in private plans. Glitches in the computer program have kept people in Oregon from signing up for private plans, but 70,000 people now have coverage from Medicaid. New York has almost 50,000 people signed up for health insurance through NY State of Health, about half of them in private plans. All these states are controlled by Democrats who are supporting the new reform. For example, only 3,000 have signed up for private plans in Texas, and the state isn’t expanding its Medicaid.

Before ACA, almost 50 million people in the United States had no health-care coverage; millions of others had “junk” policies that might not even provide hospitalization. And millions more paid more than they will under the ACA.

Many anecdotes on the media about the loss of health insurance have been debunked. If anyone complains about their being hurt by ACA, ask these four questions:

  • What does the old plan actually cover?
  • Did the person go to the exchanges?
  • What are the co-pays and deductibles?
  • Does the person qualify for subsidies?

And if the person complies with all these, then ask about the salary. People who make hundreds of thousands of dollars can afford higher rates. Think about Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) health insurance cost: it’s $40,000. Fortunately, his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs, pays the tab.

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