Republicans tried for the third and probably last time to replace Obamacare, finding objections from moderates and conservatives. Needing 51 votes to pass, the GOP falls short to replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Instead of improving the plan, keeping benefits, lowering co-pays, deductibles and improving accessibility, the GOP plan mirrors conservatives’ wish to see the program die. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) both object to the latest GOP Obamacare replacement for different reasons. Collins doesn’t like proposed cuts to Medicaid, costing some 23 million subscribers their insurance in 10 years. Paul, on the other hand, can’t vote for a bill that provides any government subsidies for health care, citing bogus Constitutional arguments about what the Framer’s really wanted, concluding only payments for national defense.
Since Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law March 23, 2010, House Republicans have tried-and-failed to repeal the law some 70 times. Republicans objected to Obama, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) railroading the legislation under the “nuclear option” without one Republican vote. Obama’s decision to go along with Pelosi and Reid torpedoed his relationship with the GOP House and Senate. While Obama won the battle for health care, he lost the war for a bipartisan legislative legacy. No matter how many times the House and Senate GOP try to fashion an Obamacare replacement, it’s clear that they don’t want to provide health care un uninsured Americans. “As a conservative, I won’t support the new federal spending or entitlements or bailouts,” said Paul echoing the fews of most GOP senators.
Pretending to want a real Obamacare replacement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can’t deliver to President Donald Trump an acceptable replacement bill. Trump doesn’t get the strong GOP opposition to, as Paul calls it, entitlements. “My strong inclination and current intention is to vote ‘no’ on the motion to proceed,” said Collins, objecting to the cuts in Medicaid. In rural states like Maine, there’s no funds to deal with Heroin epidemic except under Medicaid funding. “I look forward to reviewing the revised Senate health care legislation and forthcoming CBO report to determine the impact on West Virginians, but I continue to have serious concerns about the Medicaid provisions,” said Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV.). Trump, who promised a better GOP replacement than Obamacare, can’t fathom the strong objections within the GOP for health care spending.
When you consider most Republicans don’t object to Medicare, the federal single-payer health care system for the elderly and disabled, it’s hard to explain objections for the middle class and working poor. Obamacare filled the gap of uninsured self-employed taxpayers unable to get or afford insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions or age requirements. “It’s 172 pages guys, so I’ve got a weekend of reading,” Sen. Dean Hller (R-Nev.), not committing how he’d vote. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) expressed skepticism over the proposed Medicaid cuts. For all the criticism of Obamacare, at least it provided comprehensive health insurance to individuals without coverage, despite the rising costs. Trump and other Obamacare critics often site rising premium costs as the main reason for scrapping the program. Of all the things wrong with Obamacare, price-controls are the easiest to fix.
Without major changes to protect Medicaid funding, it’s doubtful the GOP’s Obamacare replacement will ever pass. No matter how bad Obamacare, it’s preferable to the GOP’s version that tosses too many poor folks out of health care. More importantly, it shuts off reimbursements to doctors and hospitals currently treating Medicaid recipients. McConnell’s trying to sell a health care bill opposed by the American Medical Association precisely because it removes reimbursement for doctors and hospitals. Trump speaks in only platitudes about the GOP’s Obamacare replacement. “Republican senators are working hard to get their failed Obamacare replacement approved. I will be at my desk, pen in hand!” Trump tweeted, knowing he shouldn’t hold his breath. Conservatives, like Paul, object strongly to maintaining Obamacare taxes on the wealthy to help fund the program.
Instead of grandstanding to replace Obamacare, the GOP should work with Democrats to find a sustainable way of fixing the troubled health care plan. Employers with 50 of more employees shouldn’t be allowed to force employees to buy Obamacare when they work under 30 hours a week. Obmacare was not supposed to wreck the employer-based health care system. Stopping insurance companies from hiking rates is the easy part. Passing bipartisan price-control legislation could happen overnight. Letting Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tx.) regressive plan to offer “bare-bones” health policies does nothing other than rip off hapless consumers looking to cheap-out. Fixing Obamacare, changing its name but, most importantly, serving the American public, should be the Congress’ highest priority, not the petty bickering that’s accomplishing nothing other than wasting time.