Aloha my beautiful reader humans! It’s been a while I know, but I took a bit of a break for the holidays! Personally, it was a time for me to deep dive in to some of the things that are going to be on the table in Congress over the next few months, and throughout the first 100 days of the Dark Years (which is what I have decided to call the next four years). I had intended not to come back until after the Inauguration because I had some ideas about what I wanted to write… but, the Senate convened and began the process of repealing the ACA… and here I am.
For those of you who don’t know, the 115th Congress has made their very first order of business to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because they think that there is some sort of mandate from the people to do this. Senators McConnell, Enzi, and Flake all made floor speeches yesterday arguing that the ACA is an outright and hands down failure and should be repealed. As I type this, the debate continues, and though we have heard numerous Republican Senators come out and say that they plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, we have yet to hear a single Senator from their side of the isle come out with suggestions as to what they plan to replace Obamacare with.
Now, the ACA is a tough document to understand, and it’s got so many arms in so many places, that it takes a lot of research to really wrap your head around if you aren’t an expert on the topic, which I am not, and I don’t claim to be… I have however done my best to read and muddle through the meaning of the ACA the best I can. And generally I understand these few important things….
- The ACA mandates that large employers (companies or businesses that employ more that 50 full time employees) MUST provide healthcare insurance to 95% of their employees that is both affordable, and sufficiently comparable to the minimum value exchange coverage.
- The ACA established the “pre-existing conditions” rule. Which states that if you have or HAD a pre-existing medical condition (say you survived cancer, or you have diabetes, or you have epilepsy) insurance companies are not allowed to deny you coverage or gouge up the prices simply because of said condition.
- Sub-note: Being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition prior to the ACA because women can get pregnant, and maternity medicine was viewed (basically) as a luxury. So before the ACA women buying insurance paid extra for maternity coverage… and it was a lot extra.
- Prior to the ACA, there were nearly 30 million Americans who did not have any health insurance at all, as a result of the ACA, nearly 20 million of the aforementioned 30 have now signed up for Obamacare and/or received medical coverage of some sort.
Now, from it’s inception, Republicans have HATED the ACA, Sen. Dick Durbin commented yesterday that “The Republicans hate the ACA like the devil hates holy water”. They have attempted to repeal it more times than any other piece of legislation in the modern era. They hate it. Irrationally and irreverently the GOP has decided that the ACA is the root of all the nations problems and there is no solution in their eyes other than to gut it… even if gutting it means wreaking total havoc on the insurance market, the lives constituents, and possibly the American economy.
Let me clarify what I mean…
The GOP stance is that the ACA = EVIL AF… so they must REPEAL it, which means de-fund it and essentially take away all the things it instituted. They would then like the REPLACE it…
Now I know the question you all likely have, because it was the same question I had, and that is: What would the GOP like to replace Obamacare with? The answer my darlings is… fuck if they know… literally, these people have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE! There is no plan, there is no strategy, there is just an insistence that the bloody law needs to go, and if people are hurt in the process it’s irrelevant because Obama is Satan and people being able to go to the doctor is somehow a step towards socialism.
So, obviously there isn’t a lot of logic involved in the floor debate on the red side. This is evidenced by the fact that they are actually using an amendment to the 2017 budget to go about the repeal of the ACA as we speak, and as GOP Sen. Rand Paul said yesterday, the budget doesn’t balance.
In fact, in their desperate attempt to repeal Obamacare, GOP Senators will not only toss 20 million people off of their current insurance plan (including many with serious illnesses, and thousands of elderly), but they will also likely trigger a mass increase in the cost of prescription drugs, incite a panic in the insurance industry which would send prices for those who still have insurance through the roof, and the legislation through which they achieve their repeal will add 9.7 trillion dollars to the debt over 5 years.
This notion was so egregious to Sen. Paul, who has been an open critic of Obamacare, that he has stated he will vote against the budget amendment should it come to that. This of course means that if 2 other republicans vote against the amendment, the GOP even with their majority, will be unable to repeal Obamacare, at least, through these means for the year of 2017.
Let’s get into the meat of things, because all of the facts are laid out, and clearly there are things that don’t add up. The republicans in Congress hate Obamacare, and they have since before the bill was written, and yet, they have no idea to offer for a replacement. On his voicemail, Paul Ryan promises a “better way forward with healthcare”, but doesn’t answer questions posed to him about what a better plan looks like.
Taking notes from their puppet master, these men and women have stood up in front of our nation and said… we hate this thing, we know a hand full of you hate it too, we don’t know or care what happens after it’s gone, so long as we kill it. To me that seems reckless. it’s like setting fire to your house knowing that you have nowhere else to go, and it’s frustrating because it will effect people who have never set foot in the nations capitol. I totally get that people may not be 100% happy with the ACA. It, after all, has not been a perfect law by any means… but it helps people.
For every person who has complained to me about the ACA, I can give you 5 who are extremely pleased. Some, who for the first time in their lives can be treated for illnesses and ailments they may have had for years, and others who are no longer laying awake at night worried about what will happen if their children get sick.
If you are going to torch the house, if you are adamant that it must fall, then you better have a plan for what you would like those who will be displaced to do… you better have a better idea. Because do you know what will happen… in typical republican fashion, they will do what they want, because they don’t like Obama, and they want to some how punish those of us who voted for him. They will repeal it, and people will be without coverage, some will die, others will struggle, the insurance industry will be in chaos, and since the insurance industry makes up 1/6th of our enormous economy so too will the rest of the market. In their blood lust, in their haste to embarrass the man they so despise, they will send us into recession once again, and wind up endearing him even more to those who love him, and causing those who are skeptical to look at him with favor as well.
You see either way, Barack Obama comes out of this battle on top… but the American people, we all will suffer. We as Americans will pay the price for republican arrogance and idiocy because they couldn’t try and fix what they said was broken. No, they would rather break it further.
I hear the bias in my words but I can’t help but feel like it’s justified at this point. These people are literally standing on the senate floor right now promising to sentence people to death and/or poverty in the name of embarrassing a man who in two weeks will no longer hold a public office!? These are the people we want governing us? This is the pool we are likely to select our future presidents from? Oh my gosh! The worlds most famous governing body, the largest collection of political intellectuals in the nation, and THIS is the best we can come up with! The GOP isn’t the party of idiots but god in heaven do they try and act like it.
Now as citizens, we are not helpless in this, and when I started the ThoughtBox, I made it clear that I wanted to give people the resources to contribute! So I am happy to inform you that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is conducting a phone survey, where people can call in and leave voicemail (it may be full) messages, and punch in their response to some of his questions regarding the ACA. The number to call is (202) 225-0600, press 2 to hear the ACA message and then press 1 if you want the ACA to remain in place until there is something better on the table or 2 if you support the repeal. Additionally, you can call the Senator from your state at their district office as well as at their office in D.C. and let them know that you want them to oppose this amendment to the 2017 budget and keep the ACA until someone presents a plan for what the replacement would be.
If you would like to watch the debate on issue, the whole thing can be found here and here… I HIGHLY recommend watching Sen. Sanders’ speech, I would argue it is the best speech of his career! (AND HE USES A GIANT TWEET AS A PROP)
Don’t forget that your voice and your power as a voter is not small or irrelevant. Our representatives NEED to hear our thoughts.