Nel's New Day

February 5, 2015

GOP Votes to Kill ‘Obamacare’ for 56th Time

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 2:04 PM
Tags: , , ,

The U.S. House, elected to find jobs for people in the United States, voted this week for the 56th time to eradicate the Affordable Care Act. The bill passed by 239-186 votes with three Republicans siding with the unanimous Democrats. At this time, the GOP has no idea what to do if they succeed. In writing about his disgust for the ACA, conservative Michael Strain, resident “scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute, encapsulates the conservatives’ opinion about humanity. Summary: people could die, and that’s okay.

“A slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals — including more cash for other programs …; less government coercion and more individual liberty; more health-care choice for consumers, allowing them to find plans that better fit their needs; more money for taxpayers to spend themselves; and less federal health-care spending.”

Actually, the House GOP members have a plan to write a plan, and its bill stated that any plan must

  • foster economic growth and private sector job creation;
  • lower health care premiums;
  • preserve a patient’s ability to keep their health plan;
  • provide people with preexisting conditions access to affordable health coverage;
  • reform the medical liability system to reduce unnecessary health care spending;
  • increase the number of insured Americans;
  • protect the doctor-patient relationship;
  • provide states greater flexibility to administer Medicaid programs;
  • expand incentives to encourage personal responsibility for health care coverage and costs;
  • prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and provide conscience protections for health care providers;
  • eliminate duplicative government programs and wasteful spending;
  • not accelerate the insolvency of entitlement programs or increase the tax burden on Americans.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said the GOP plan would be “flown in on a unicorn sliding down a rainbow.” One serious problem with meeting the requirements is the protection of doctor-patient relationship: almost all GOP laws regarding women’s reproductive rights destroy that relationship by forcing doctors to require unnecessary medical procedures and communicate false information to their female patients. A GOP mandate would also require government regulations on private insurers to meet the goals, something that the GOP refuses to do.

Less than two weeks ago, CBS’s Scott Penley interviewed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on 60 Minutes. Boehner claimed that the GOP would be “providing more access … without taking control of the entire healthcare system.” Asked what the plan is, Boehner responded, “We’re working on this. Having discussions amongst our members, [we have] got a lot of divergent views about how best to go back to a doctor patient-relationship that’s revered.”

Republicans are counting on a Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell that will do their dirty work for them. The high court will hear arguments in March and issue a decision by the end of June about whether people who live in states without state health exchanges can receive insurance subsidies. GOP House leaders demand to know whether agencies impacted by a negative SCOTUS ruling are preparing for consequences, but the GOP is abdicating its own responsibilities about these consequences. A sane Congress could just spend an afternoon to approve language allowing subsidies in states without state exchanges.

If five justices invalidate these subsidies in about three dozen states, the executive branch has no power to change the situation; only Congress can fix the problem, but the majority won’t want to do this. Republicans could ask states to create their own exchanges, but the majority won’t want to do this. Republicans can’t agree on what to do, and millions of people in the United States would again be without health insurance, driving the economy into the ground.

Three GOP congressional members have proposed an alternative for healthcare while avoiding a calculated cost from the CBO by not presenting a formal bill. They also have no plans for any formal hearings.

  • Preexisting conditions could not be covered if people do not maintain continuous health coverage.
  • People would not receive any aid unless they make less than three times the federal poverty level.
  • Mandates on benefits such as maternity care and annual limits on coverage would be removed.
  • Medicaid would be provided through block grants with fewer requirements in states.
  • People already on Medicaid would be given tax credits to buy private plans.
  • People would not be required to get health insurance.
  • The only funding source for the plan is a tax on employees with health plans worth more than $12,000 for individuals or $30,000 for families.
  • Insurance premiums can be five times as much for older people as younger individuals.
  • Caps would be place on the amount of monetary damages awarded in medical malpractice litigation.

This plan would in all probability increase costs significantly for many consumers, especially those with low income. People would also be forced out of their current health plans, an event that Republicans have criticized in the past.  The same ideas were tossed around last year, but the GOP never agreed on any of them.

A few facts about the results of the Affordable Care Act:

  • The rate of uninsured Americans is down 5.3 percent in the last year.
  • The ballooning of health-care costs has slowed.
  • U.S. hospitals are making fewer errors.
  • Hospital care is improving, saving 50,000 lives between 2011 and 2013.
  • The same hospitals have significantly cut patient readmissions by 1.5 percent since 2011.

CEO David Siegel, who threatened that “Obamacare” would make him fire employees, had a banner year in 2014. During the 2012 presidential race, he had sent all his employees a letter stating the President Obama’s re-election would “threaten your job” because of the “system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive.” Two years later he raised his minimum wage for employees to $10 because “we’re experiencing the best year in our history and I wanted to do something to show my gratitude for the employees who make that possible.” This happened after the president raised Siegel’s taxes, implemented the ACA, kept federal regulations, and left most of Dodd-Frank safeguards.

Sane people know that the conservative view of eliminating subsidies for the 34 states without state exchanges is wrong, both legally and ethically.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, now the Koch brothers’ choice for GOP presidential candidate, said in 2013 that he spent almost two years studying the law and concluded that “there’s no real substantive difference between a federal exchange, or a state exchange, or the in between, the hybrid, the partnership.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, one of six Republicans to file an amicus brief in favor of gutting the law, wrote an op-ed in 2010 declaring that a state establishing its own exchange, “[i]s not a condition for receiving federal funds, which would still leave some kind of choice to the states.”

Retired Sen. Ben Nelson (R-NE) said, “I always believed that tax credits should be available in all 50 states regardless of who built the exchange, and the final law also reflects that belief as well.”

The Heritage Foundation, strong supporters of the conservative view about state exchanges, wrote a white paper claiming that subsidies would be available to any enrollee. It stated that tax credits will be available to “who[m]ever controls the AHB exchange.” Over 25 years ago, the same right-wing group created the idea of the individual mandate. Retired Sen. Ben Nelson (R-NE) said, “I always believed that tax credits should be available in all 50 states regardless of who built the exchange, and the final law also reflects that belief as well.”

Business-oriented Republicans need to worry about the consequences of what they consider a “win.” Insurance companies now rely on all the new premiums during the past year. Stripping tax credits will make them more unstable and thereby forced to charge far more for premiums. More people will drop insurance, reducing profits for these businesses.

Congressional Republicans haven’t thought that far ahead. What they want is chaos in health care. Two-thirds of the people in the U.S. think that lawmakers will keep the existing subsidies in place, but GOP members of Congress have declared that they won’t do anything to keep the tax credits if the Supreme Court rules in favor of only state exchanges. Most Republicans support state insurance exchanges to retain subsidies, but GOP legislators won’t do this.

Part of the September 2010 House GOP Pledge to America read, “We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with commonsense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs.” For over 50 months, the GOP House has only passed bills to get rid of the greatest social program in a half century. The estimate of deaths if the ACA is overturned is about 10,000, over three times the number of people who died on 9/11/01. People could die, but that’s okay—if it’s just not all at one time.


1 Comment »

  1. Oh, spectacular blog. Sound the horns and usher these greedy nincompoops out!


    Comment by Lee Lynch — February 5, 2015 @ 8:42 PM | Reply

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