Slapping together his replacement bill for Obamacare, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) finds himself battling his party’s lunatic fringe, the so-called Freedom Caucus led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). Meadows’ main beef with Obamacare are government subsidies, an integral feature of helping over 20 million Americans afford medical insurance. Singed into law by former President Barack Obama March 23, 2010, the Affordable Cared act provided income-based subsidies to help subscribers pay for Obamacare policies. Showing the Freedom’s Caucus’s extreme views, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Al.) voted against Ryan’s Obamacare replacement because it offered age-related tax credits, something the Freedom Caucus regards as an entitlement, the same objection they voiced when opposing Obamacare.
Freedom Caucus devotees don’t get that any form of national health care involves government subsidies, especially Medicare and Medicaid. Providing care for the elderly disabled and poor, Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson July 30, 1965. Obama’s Affordable Care Act greatly expanded Medicaid for unemployed or under-employed citizens living at or below the poverty level earning $11,770 for individuals or up to $51,120 for a family of eight. Even though Ryan’s Obamacare replacement passed out of committee 19-17 without one Democratic vote, it was still rejected by the Freedom Caucuses despite dramatically scaling back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Independent Congressional Budge Office [CBO] forecast some 24 million losing coverage over the next 10 years due to scaling back Medicaid spending.
Freedom Caucus lawmakers demanded an immediate end to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, a key part of insuring the lion’s share of uninsured folks not covered by any other kind of insurance. Instead of expanding Medicaid, Ryan’s American Health Care Act [AHCA], scales back Medicaid, instead supplying block grants to states. Ryan’s Medicaid cuts kick-in in two-and-a-half years, something the Freedom Caucus wants immediately. Freedom Caucus wants a work requirement for childless adults without known disabilities. Providing only age-related tax credits ranging from $2,000 to $4,000, Ryan’s bill isn’t likely to pass the Senate. “I doubt the bill will pass the Senate, and if it becomes law, I doubt it will be long before it’s repealed in the next Congress,” said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), finding Ryan’s bill too austere for ordinary citizens, especially older subscribers.
When you consider Ryan’s bill won’t pass the Senate with dramatic cuts to Medicaid and government subsidies, it’s no wonder the Freedom Caucus is looked at with such disgust. President Donald Trump and his Health and Human Services Secretary Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) call Obamacare failing because of runaway premium prices and growing deductibles. Neither Obamacare nor Ryan’s new bill deals with insurance industry price-gouging, something that must be addressed in any new health care bill. There’s only so many ways you can slice the medical insurance pie. Either you reduce benefits or expect to pay higher premiums. Ryan’s new bill seeks to provide bare-bones policies, offering either only major medical coverage or such high deductibles that subscribers would have to go out-of-pocket to pay for doctors’ visits. Obamacare provided comprehensive insurance plans.
If Obamacare premiums have gone through the roof, it’s long overdue for Congress to pass price-controls. Ryan’s new plan doesn’t replace Obamacare, it harms subscribers providing inferior plans with less medical benefits, including prescription drugs, dental, vision and long-term care When you look at Ryan trying to reinvent the wheel, he’s be better off keeping Obamacare’s core structure, finding practical fixes for what’s wrong. Spending the last seven years trying to repeal Obamacare, the GOP-controlled House needs to get over its need to slap down Obamacare and figure out a better way to provide health care to U.S. citizens. Freedom Caucus zealots should get off the anti-subsidy bandwagon and accept that government-sponsored health care requires subsidies to enable poor citizens to get reasonably prices comprehensive medical insurance.
Looking at the big picture, Republicans’ zealotry to repeal-and-replace Obamacare has hit a brick wall. While Ryan’s bill got out of the House Budget Committee [19-17] March 16, it’s been badly bloodied, with three Republicans jumping ship. In their zeal to end Obamacare subsidies, the GOP’s Freedom Caucus has gone overboard, eviscerating a credible replacement plan. When the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said March 13 24 million would lose coverage over 10 years, it showed Ryan’s bill as a Trojan Horse, full of hostile surprises, making a bad situation worse. “Now is the time for leadership to step up before this gets to the floor, make an adjustment to this high match,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), not satisfied with the GOP plan. Instead of junking Obamacare for partisan reasons, the GOP should keep what’s good and fix the rest.