Affordable Care Act On The Brink
During the debate over Obama Care in 2009–10, the GOP made numerous disingenuous complaints about the process surrounding the eventual passage of the bill. The Republicans complained it was rushed, it was all done behind closed doors, and that the budget reconciliation process was somehow unfair. The Republicans even falsely contended that nobody read the bill.
The reality was that it took 14 months to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there were over 100 hearings and numerous Republican Amendments were accepted at those hearings. The Senate passed the ACA without using budget reconciliation by a 60–39 margin on December 24, 2009. The budget reconciliation process was only used by the Senate to take out the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback.”
In addition to their dishonest process arguments, the Republicans also made apocalyptic predictions of doom if the ACA became law. John Boehner prognosticated that the ACA would “ruin the country” and cause “Armageddon.” Ben Sasse predicted the implementation of the ACA would cause America to “cease to exist.”
It has long been safe for Sasse to emerge from his survivalist bunker since the ACA turned out to be a success. The 2010 health care law resulted in 20 million additional Americans obtaining insurance and reduced the uninsured rate from 18% to 9%. And after the passage of the ACA, the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 4.4%.
When Trump took office in January, the ACA needed some tweaks but it was essentially sound. Both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and Standard & Poor’s indicated that most insurance markets were stable and would remain so in the absence of sabotage by the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress.
Since the Republicans took control of the executive and legislative branches, they have taken steps that have caused insurance premiums to soar and insurance companies to leave insurance markets in several states. The Trump Administration quit enforcing the individual mandate and indicated it might cut off subsidies that keep premiums lower. Several insurance company executives have blamed the Administration for the slow unraveling of some of the ACA exchanges.
The Republicans are now promising to “rescue” the American people from the ACA and in the recent past have made a series of grandiose promises about their plans. Trump has promised to insure “everybody” and “great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost.” Both Mike Pence and Paul Ryan have promised that “nobody will be left worse off” in connection with the repeal and replacement of the ACA.
The House Republican’s so-called “rescue” mission only rescued the insurance industry and the top 1%. The House Trump Care bill would take away insurance from 24 million people and gut pre-existing condition protections in order to finance a $600 billion tax cut for the wealthy.
Equally outrageous was the un-democratic process the House GOP used to ram Trump Care through swiftly on a straight party line vote. There were no hearings and no CBO score before the House vote. In addition, the bill was drafted behind closed doors with no input from the stakeholders in the medical profession and hospital industry. Apparently, the GOP complaints about the process surrounding the passage of the ACA weren’t on the level.
As was to be expected, Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith all voted for Trump Care. It should come as no surprise to anybody because they vote with Trump anywhere from 97% to 100% of the time. What made Fortenberry’s vote especially hypocritical was that he demanded an open process and a CBO score before any vote on the ACA in 2010.
At the present time, the Senate Republicans are following the trail blazed by the House GOP. There is currently a committee of 13 right wing male Republican Senators who are meeting in complete secrecy to draft a bill that would effect most Americans. There have been no hearings, no bill drafts and no CBO score. Leaks have been few and far between since McConnell has bullied them into silence.
What little we’ve learned is that the Senate bill closely resembles the Trump Care bill that passed the House. The Medicaid expansion would still be phased out and millions would lose insurance coverage. In addition, protections for pre-existing conditions would be eviscerated. McConnell has insisted upon secrecy because if the American people learn what is in this bill, there would be a firestorm of criticism and blow back.
The Senate GOP leader plans to put this bill on the floor swiftly once he believes he has 51 votes and jam it through using the budget reconciliation rules with a minimum of debate. Why the secrecy? If the Senate Trump Care bill was so great, wouldn’t the Senate GOP be shouting about it from the rooftops?
As we know, the GOP promised to replace the ACA with “something terrific.” Trump also said “everybody” would be insured — and by the government if necessary. Fortenberry pledged that “nobody would be left behind.” The GOP promised to replace the ACA with a Cadillac. Instead, we are getting a broken down old Yugo.
McConnell is using the focus on the Trump-Russia scandal to keep attention focused away from what is happening behind closed doors in the Senate. The Senate GOP needs secrecy and speed to jam through Trump Care on a straight party line vote.
It is only the American people who can prevent the humanitarian disaster that Trump Care would cause if it were to pass. We need to remain focused on what is happening in the Senate. Please call your Senators now at 202–224–3121 to demand that they keep their promises on health care. It is up to us stop this abomination from happening! Thank you for all that you do!