Why The Republican Health Care "Plan" is Making Me Sick

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McConnell. Rejecting ACA due to GOP blind anti-Obama race animus: Photo: Gage Skidmore--Flickr

On May 4th, 2017, after voting more than 50 times over the past seven years to either cripple, delay implementation or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Republican-controlled House voted 217 to 213 to repeal and replace the ACA.  The bill now faces an uncertain fate as it goes over to the Senate, which has stated that it is in the process of writing its own bill.

President Trump said: "This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better. This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it…"

Since its inception, there has been and continues to be problems with the “health care reform” debate. Language is very important. How an issue is defined and subsequently described can significantly impact the public's ability to intelligently and effectively understand it. The first problem is that neither the ACA nor the Republican responses deal with reforming health care. The ACA deals with insurance companies not health care providers. This is an important distinction as insurance companies do not provide health care, they pay for it. The ACA was meant to address health insurance reform not health care reform.

The Obama Administration’s solution to the problems with the delivery of quality health care and access for all Americans was to increase the number of people that were signed up with health insurance companies. They reformed the requirements stipulated by the insurance companies with regard to who could have access to the health care system. These requirements dictated reimbursement for services rendered, the rules of eligibility for coverage, such as a preexisting conditions, and how health care providers are paid. They did not address the quality and types of care that are provided. 

With this in mind, providing more Americans access to health insurance is a good thing.  As a result of the passage of the ACA, according to PolitiFact - Wisconsin, 20 million Americans gained health insurance. Total health expenditures hit record low rates in the first three years after the ACA was implemented. The ACA lowered the number of uninsured Americans from 16% in 2010 to 8.9% in 2016. There are millions of Americans who are no longer at risk of being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. These are all very positive results since the implementation of the ACA.

Why are so many Republicans opposed to a policy that according to Gallup most Americans support?: “Fifty-five percent of Americans now support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a major turnaround from five months ago when 42% approved and 53% disapproved.” Why are Republicans working feverously to repeal instead of repair the ACA (which they epithetically labeled “Obamacare”), a bill which is eerily similar to the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation’s 1993 Health Equity and Access Reform Today (HEART) bill? Simply put, it’s the racist “Obama” tag in Obamacare that is causing so many of them so much heartburn.

Republicans interest in repealing the ACA is consistent with what Robert Draper describes in his book “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.” Draper documents how, after Obama’s first inauguration, the Republican leadership "plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.” It’s consistent with then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 2010 pledge: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

While this can be written off as competition between the two major parties, the racist element of their ire is evident in Donald Trump’s “birther” movement and former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s calling President Obama a "Mau Mau" in the White House. As Gingrich put it then: “What if (Obama) is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan anticolonial behavior can you begin to piece together (his actions)?”

Gingrich went on to call President Obama a conman: “This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.” Finally, recall Congressman Joe Wilson’s infamous “you lie” declaration during Obama’s State of the Union address. These are just a few examples of the injection of racism into the political discord as it pertained to Obama. Wilson nor any other member of Congress would have ever thought to disrespect any other President in this manner from the floor of Congress.

Speaking of lying, why are Republicans resorting to distortions and lies to convince the electorate that the ACA needs to be repealed?  For example, health insurance costs are not rising due to the ACA.  As stated above the rate of increase has been cut almost in half. According to NPR, insurance premiums are on the rise but not because of the ACA. Obamacare does not cut benefits for those on Medicare. Tax dollars do not go toward providing immigrants who are in the country illegally with free health insurance. Undocumented immigrants are prohibited from getting care under the ACA.

President Trump continues to say that the ACA is imploding, with statements such as, “Whether or not Republicans repealed and replaced it in the next few years it’ll be gone … it’ll be imploded off the map.” According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “President Trump has said on various occasions that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is imploding, exploding, or collapsing. There is very little evidence for this… The Medicaid component—which expanded eligibility up to 138% of the poverty level for all adults—seems to be working just fine…”  JAMA continued, “…the enrollment mix has skewed more toward individuals who are older and sicker than insurers expected, and many had to raise premiums significantly in 2017—22% on average for benchmark plans in the marketplaces. So, maybe the ACA marketplaces are, in fact, collapsing? The evidence suggests otherwise. Enrollment declined by about half a million in 2017, but even so, 12.2 million people signed up for coverage in the marketplaces, hardly a sign of collapse.”

So, as Trump and Republicans scramble to repeal the ACA, more and more people are asking why? According to NPR, “Republican members of Congress aren't exactly getting a warm welcome in their home districts during this week's recess. Angry constituents have confronted legislators at town halls across the country, upset over everything from the GOP's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump White House's travel ban, alleged Russian interference in the U.S. elections and more.”

In a nutshell, too many Republicans wish Barack Hussein Obama had never been elected. Since they cannot rewrite history and erase him from the history books they are doing everything in their power to eliminate his accomplishments and Michelle’s healthy school lunch program as well. 

Too many of them would rather eat their bigotry and hatred than sit down and enjoy a good meal.

According to The New York Times, “Their (Republicans) health care plan provides a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. And it will make it easier for Republicans to pass more tax cuts this year.”  At the end of the day, their “plan” is a fraud and their marketing is based on lies and distortions; “alternative facts”. It’s making me sick.

 

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the author of Politics Another Perspective, Producer/Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com

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