GOP HEALTH CARE BILL FACES STIFF OPPOSITION

Spending seven years trying to repeal Obamacare since former President Barack Obama signed the legislation March 23, 2010, GOP conservatives, led by the House Freedom Caucus, want Obamacare repealed, something so unrealistic, so incomprehensible, ripping health insurance away from some 20 million citizens. GOP conservatives believe that the government should not be in health insurance business, subsidizing U.S. citizens unable to pay for it. Much of Obamacare’s target market were unemployed or under-employed citizens, unable to afford health insurance on their own, covered by a Medicaid expansion, providing the bare-minimum coverage to poor people. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) bill “Obamacare Lite,” criticizing it for providing age-based tax credits instead of subsidies for citizens unable to afford health insurance.

Whatever the nation’s national debt and ongoing federal budget deficits, providing health care for the poor, elderly and disabled goes with the territory. Obamacare, though well-intentioned, had no GOP support when Democrats railroaded it through Congress to the president’s desk. Imposing national health care legislation without one Republican vote was bound to fail. Without any GOP support, it was impossible to tweak the Affordable Care Act to deal with its flaws, leaving premiums and deductibles out-of-control. While the GOP narrative talks about Obamacare imploding, the truth is it’s been sick since the get-go, needing desperate bi-partisan fixes that never happened. GOP’s new plan, called the “American Healthcare Act,” attempts to disqualify millions of poor citizens from Medicaid, providing less subsidies in the way of age-based tax credits to pay for coverage.

No GOP architect of the AHA, including former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), now head of Health and Human Services, suggests regulating the insurance industry from price-gouging. Whatever plan the GOP concocts, it won’t control runaway premium costs unless there are price-controls on the insurance industry. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press” Sunday, Price told host Chuck Todd that Obamacare was failing. “Obamacare, the ACA [Affordable Care Act] has failed. You’ve got premiums going up, you’ve got deductibles where people have an insurance card but they don’t have any coverage . . “ said Price, stating the obvious but offering no fixes. If Republicans and Democrats could work together, they could rein-in runaway costs. Without any price controls, the AHA will fail just like Obamacare. Price talks about deductibles going up but won’t admit the AHA will have the same problem as Obamacare.

Returning to old health care plans before the ACA, insurance industry routinely created plans called “major medical,” typically with high deductibles without any routine doctor visits. All ACA plans required both major medical and outpatient care, including vision and mental health. Ryan and Price’s new GOP plans expects to return to worthless old insurance plans, preventing subscribers from using benefits without meeting high deductibles. House GOP lawmakers, like conservative Freedom Caucus Chief Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), only really want to repeal Obamcare. President Donald Trump has committed GOP lawmakers to a concurrent replacement bill, now making rounds in various House committees. Speaker Ryan, speaking on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, said if the GOP repeals without replacement, the House GOP faces a bloodbath in 2018.

Opposed by the American Medical Assn., the AHA expects to greatly scale back Medicaid, something dramatically expanded under the ACA. “What people want is to get care. When people get sick, they want to be able to go to the doctor. That’s where Obamacare failed,” said House Budget Director Rep. Mike Mulvaney (R-S.C.). Mulveny’s plan to cut millions off Medicaid isn’t going to improve access to doctors for poor people. Mulvaney wants the federal government to block grant Medicaid funds to manage care to the poor, something so risky it could bankrupt certain states unable to provide state-funded health care to poor residents. Paul and the GOP Freedom Caucus are more concerned about costs than delivering better health care. Ryan called the current AHA bill “as good as it gets,” with Freedom Caucus folks trying to squeeze as much blood as possible.

In their zeal to repeal Obamacare, the GOP cares less about delivering better health care to ordinary citizens than cutting rising costs on the national debt and federal budget deficits. When Price talks about Obamacare failing, it’s because Republicans and Democrats refused to fix the problems. Cutting more poor folks off Medicaid doesn’t help doctors and hospitals, unable to get reimbursed for their services. Obamacare did many good things, including assuring subscribers a modicum of health care benefits. If premiums and deductibles went through the roof, it’s because the Congress didn’t have the sense to impose price controls on the insurance industry. No one wants to deny the insurance industry reasonable profits but they’ve been gouging the government on Obamcare. Instead of fixing the problem, dealing with insurance industry price-gouging, the GOP just makes a bad situation worse.