House GOP just came up with an ACA replacement NOW?

Think about this for a moment. On Jan. 19, 2011, more than six years ago, the U.S. House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the first time.

On Groundhog Day last year (which was fitting), the House stormed that rampart again (in one form or another) for the 62nd time! I don’t know what the grand total was during the Obama years, since that’s the most recent story I find with a number. But 62 is far more than enough to make my point.

Now hold onto that thought, as you consider that yesterday, just yesterday — Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 — House Republicans finally offered a plan for replacing Obamacare. One that apparently has a bit of an uphill climb ahead of it.

We don' need no estinking CBO score?

We don’ need no estinking CBO score?

Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin was particularly brutal, in a piece headlined “ACA repeal: House Republicans’ breathtaking recklessness.”

She has her reasons, and some are fairly persuasive. Some have to do with all the unanswered questions about the proposal. Republicans love to quote Nancy Pelosi’s observation that “We have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it….” Surely, surely, they’re not asking anyone to buy a pig in a poke themselves, right? She notes that Speaker Paul Ryan’s office says it can’t answer basic questions about the proposal’s potential impact because it doesn’t have a score from the Congressional Budget Office (which she doubts).

All that aside, here’s my reaction to the headline on Ms. Rubin’s piece: The real, breathtaking recklessness was voting to repeal the law all those times without even this imperfect replacement to offer. In other words, saying they had to repeal the ACA in order to find out what would replace it.

It’s pretty amazing…

33 thoughts on “House GOP just came up with an ACA replacement NOW?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I love this… in looking up how many times the House had voted to deep-six Obamacare, I ran across this story (cited above) from March 2014 saying they had already voted on the bill in some way 54 times.

    A few days before that, the Washington Examiner had reported, “No, House Republicans haven’t voted 50 times to repeal Obamacare.”

    This is the good part:

    For more than a year, Democrats and their advocates in the press have been ridiculing the GOP’s anti-Obamacare efforts. “The House Republicans have voted more than 30 times to repeal Obamacare,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in March 2013. “The House has wasted weeks voting more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in October of last year. “If at first you don’t succeed, try 50 times — Republicans [are] holding a 50th vote to repeal Obamacare,” MSNBC’s Al Sharpton said last week. Many others have said similar things.

    The only problem is, the truism isn’t true. The House has actually voted to repeal Obamacare in its entirety six times. Certainly Democrats think that is six too many. But it is not 50, or even close to 50. The rest of the votes — there have actually been 54 so far — were votes that ranged from defunding measures that would have crippled Obamacare to delaying measures that would have put off some of the very same provisions in the law that President Obama has delayed unilaterally, to measures fixing portions of the law that passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support and were signed by the president….

    Now think about that — only six times.

    Six times — amid many other efforts to “cripple” the law — House Republicans had wasted time and energy making the completely empty and futile gesture of voting for something that was not going to happen, and without a serious plan for replacing it.

    If we hadn’t heard the larger numbers, six would be a pretty stunning demonstration of empty political cynicism…

    1. bud

      Which party did all this nonsense? Long before Trump.

      It really does look like this time will be the charm in some form or another.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, this isn’t a Trump thing. It’s more of a Tea Party thing, a manifestation of the Obama Derangement Syndrome that has infected the GOP for several years. It’s Obamacare, so it’s bad — because that Obama person is so awful.

        It remains to be seen whether Trump will ultimately go along with it, whatever he has said.

        It seems highly likely it will be torn apart, between Rand Paul and the yahoos in the Freedom Caucus who don’t want ANY health care plan (there is no remotely viable plan that these guys would ever go for), and Trump’s populist impulses…

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’ve always thought the simplest solution to satisfying the GOP’s hatred of “Obamacare” would be to leave it as it is, but pass a bill officially renaming the ACA “Trumpcare.”

        Presto! Problem solved. Except for the locos who don’t WANT a law increasing access to health care.

        And Trump would be so proud and pleased, he’d defend it for the rest of the time he’s in office…

  2. Karen Pearson

    What? After all those times we were told that President Obama and the democrats wouldn’t even look at their (Republican) suggestions regarding health care? Oh, horrors!

    BTW, how is a person who’s got a family, who doesn’t have much disposable income (special treat kids–we’re going to McDonalds) supposed to be able to pay the cost up front? They can’t wait for tax season to come around, and collect it then; they don’t have the money.

    1. Harry Harris

      The bill is supposed to have monthly refundable credits, possibly payable to insurance companies – a lot like the ACA, but the bill is so loosey goosey it likely puts the insurance companies back in charge. The big tout is expanded HSA’s, but as you allude, those are just something of a boon to folks who can put sizable money aside and have trouble reaching 10% of their adjusted income with medical expenses. Republicans want to make medicare look as weak as possible so they can mess with it, so backing out the extension of the 1.9% medicare tax to higher and passive incomes (already treated favorably) gives them a toofer – put medicare on shaky ground and line their big funders’ pockets. They will gladly toss a sop to the masses as long as it gets them their bigger objective. Ask John Dean or David Stockman.

  3. Phillip

    What is so surprising about this? The GOP has never felt, not as long as I can remember going back to Reagan-era, that there was any problem with health care; for the people they really care about, the American health care system works just fine…remember, “best health care in the world” they always liked to say (again, meaning “best” for the people that can afford it and deserve it, which to them is the same thing). For all the years they sought futilely to repeal Obamacare, they didn’t really care about a replacement, figuring that going back to the way things were was just fine. Only now, as they suddenly realized that the number of people severely impacted by a repeal was going to be much greater (and much more vocal) than they expected, they scramble to come up with a “plan.”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Right. And I’m just noting the absurdity of the situation. It’s not a surprise at all.

      These folks have never thought about what would actually HAPPEN if they repealed Obamacare. Aside from the fact that they didn’t care, they knew that it wasn’t going to happen as long as Obama was there to veto it.

      I’m just spelling it all out for the sake of any who are forgetful.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Sometimes I feel the need to point out what’s obvious, because I realize that a lot of folks don’t pay close attention.

        For instance, there are all those people out there who were shocked, SHOCKED at Edward Snowden’s “revelations.” Whereas, based on what had been available previously, those were the kinds of things I had assumed we were doing. And of course, I was OK with it…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I just read something else that fits in the so-obvious-you-shouldn’t-have-to-point-it-out category.

          It’s headlined, “The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is.”

          An excerpt:

          What the flag symbolizes for blacks is enough reason to take it down. But there’s another reason that white southerners shouldn’t fly it. Or sport it on our state-issued license plates as some do here in North Carolina. The Confederacy – and the slavery that spawned it – was also one big con job on the Southern, white, working class. A con job funded by some of the ante-bellum one-per-centers, that continues today in a similar form.

          You don’t have to be an economist to see that forcing blacks – a third of the South’s laborers – to work without pay drove down wages for everyone else. And not just in agriculture. A quarter of enslaved blacks worked in the construction, manufacturing and lumbering trades; cutting wages even for skilled white workers….

          Well, duh. How could anyone not know that?

          But of course, plenty of people have never picked up on it. So you’ll have some liberals who read that and see it as new and say, “Wow! Great point!” And others who will say, “Nuh-uhn! Not true!” and wave their flags…

          1. Bill

            Lotta flag wavers, so to speak, in the comments below that piece, if you noticed. Of course, articles about the reb flag or the Confederacy almost always provoke a lively reader response — in this state, anyway.

          2. Claus2

            Then the Industrial Revolution came about and put even more people out of work. It’s been said that slavery would have died out gradually as farming and industrial equipment became more common. Machines were cheaper, faster, and could work longer hours than a slave or horse/oxen.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “It’s been said that slavery would have died out gradually”

              Yeah, I kind of doubt that.

              South Carolina had more slaves than free people, and our culture — and the wealth of our elites, who had an unusually firm grip on state government, which was structured to serve them — was so entirely wrapped up in the Peculiar Institution, that I can’t see that happening here.

              I don’t see a few modern conveniences convincing our state senators to decide, “Hey, let’s set free these people who outnumber us and whom we’ve enslaved for hundreds of years, and see how it goes.”

              Which is why they fought the war. And utter defeat in such a war was the only way they were letting go…

            2. Bill

              You ain’t never read C. Vann Woodward, have ya? He points out that in some places across the late antebellum South, slaves were starting to be used in factory settings that were just getting a foothold in the region.

              1. Claus2

                No I ain’t never readed that man’s words.

                I never said slavery would have ended completely in one day, I do believe slaves would have been repurposed but there comes a point where a slave owner wouldn’t need 1000 slaves after machines entered the picture. He may only have needed 100, and that wouldn’t have lasted decades or centuries before he needed them even less. Look at factory workers, how many people did an automotive plant hire from 1900 – 1970? How many work in those plants today (well the ones that are still pumping out vehicles)? Robotics and automation have eliminated a lot of factory jobs.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  So… you’re saying we’d still have slavery, just not as MUCH of it?

                  Yeah, you know, uh, I’ve kinda got a problem with that…

  4. Norm Ivey

    If only there was a country somewhere in the world that had already dealt with the issue of affordable health care for all its citizens. The we could study their plan to create something that works for America. It’s so difficult being exceptional.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Joking aside, the trouble is, it’s hard to compare because the other countries that come to mind were sensible enough to go with single-payer.

      Where are the examples for this odd thing called the ACA?

      1. bud

        I think Switzerland has something similar to the ACA and it works. The big difference is they work at making it succeed. Here we have half the country working to make it fail.

        1. Harry Harris

          Bada Bing! When a party influencer declares the ACA to be the “Waterloo” they’ve been looking for and votes quite lock-step to undermine it, never allowing for one tweaking or improvement in 7 years, that’s a sign of a dysfunctional Congress and political system. When political points weigh more than the health of the economy or its citizens, polarization is way past being toxic.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Right, and that’s the problem we had BEFORE Trump.

            Now that we have the crisis of Trump, our system is rendered unable to face the threat effectively, because of that dysfunction arising from mindless partisanship.

            Where is the Howard Baker who will ask of a “Republican” president what he knew and when he knew it? Those were difficult times, but elected representatives understood that they were Americans before they were members of parties…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Nice chart. You should put it next to one showing the SC tax burden compared to other states.

            And yet our people whine and moan constantly about taxes. They’re such babies…

            1. Claus2

              I don’t mind paying taxes if they’re used for what they’re initially intended to be used for. Gas and vehicle taxes should be used for roads and infrastructure, not tossed in the general fund so we can redecorate the Governor’s Office or buy iPads for schools.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                So you’re in luck, since that’s exactly how the gas tax is used!

                The problem the last couple of years is that we’ve gone the other way, and stolen revenues meant for OTHER purposes and spent them on roads…

                1. Claus2

                  So every dime I’ve paid in taxes at the pump went straight back into road repairs?

                  So we’re stealing from other pots to pay for roads now? What roads are being repaired? I haven’t seen a milling or paving machine on a state highway in years. I’ve seen a couple bridge repairs.

  5. Bart

    Maybe it is time for everyone to step back, take a deep breath, and remember our history. bus referenced Sweden. Sweden has been around since the Middle Ages and the present day Sweden borders were finally established in 1905. Norway was the last Swedish union member and both are the same age as independent countries. Britain has been around for what seems forever. This is the case with most European countries. They have been at the business of being a country much longer than we have and they have been through 2 world wars that devastated large portions of their countries.

    By comparison, we are still young and still learning. We went through the war of independence and another war in 1812. Afterwards, we endured the Civil War that tore this country apart and we are still feeling the aftermath of the Civil War in many ways.

    But, we are moving forward. Sometimes we take one step forward and back two. Other times we take two steps forward and back one. We are still learning.

    Now to the point of ACA and the promise of a repeal and replacement by Republicans. Yes, it was indeed an attempt to rebuke Obama with the promise to repeal it from the beginning. The attempts failed – until now. I understand the logical reasons to repeal it because it was a hastily thrown together assembly of vetoed and abandoned efforts by Democrats and many Republicans. It was not thoroughly vetted by the voters as promised. Instead we got the infamous comment by Pelosi, “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it” (paraphrasing her words).

    However, the reality is that ACA has been in place since 2010 and once ensconced into the fabric of the economy and the millions who are dependent on it, trying to replace it with another half-assed attempt at “fixing” is ludicrous and totally asinine. But, Republicans hell bent on doing away with it need to get a dose of reality and back off now instead of proffering something that will not work and instead of the albatross around Obama’s neck, it will become one around all Republicans who support repeal and replace.

    What needs to be addressed first is the inequity forced on families just to get insurance. I know several families with health insurance under ACA who are worse off now than before. A business associate is paying $2,100 a month for family coverage with a $5,500 deductible for each member of the family with an accumulative cap of $11,000 before insurance kicks in. His exposure including premiums plus deductible is $36,200 annually and I know he had to make dramatic cuts across the board just to survive. This is just one example and the family is not eligible for assistance or relief because their income is over the level for government assistance. My niece in Ohio is caught in the same income level trap. She is a single mom and not getting any help from her ex-husband and trying to put three children through college, paying a mortgage, and all of the other expenses required to raise a family. Her attorney advised declaring bankruptcy so she can get some relief and that is a sad situation.

    Conversely, there are families living below the levels required for assistance and they in essence have the same problem. About the only way they can afford health care is to enroll in a bronze plan, pay what they can with financial assistance, and hope for the best.

    I am a fiscal conservative but at some point, our basic humanity must come into play and do everything we can to help and assist those who truly are in need of additional support so they can receive the benefits of the best health care in the world. We do have the best health care in the world but that is not the issue. The issue is “access” to it for everyone, not just the few who can afford it. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and all of the wealthy can afford to pay but what about the ones who live from paycheck to paycheck? What about the ones who are caught in the financial gap and pay through the nose and a catastrophic health crisis must occur before insurance kicks in?

    It is simple human compassion and caring about others from all of us especially anyone who declares they are a Christian but opposes any effort to help when it comes to access to health care. I know that not-for-profit hospitals cannot enforce collection or turn anyone in to credit reporting agencies as long as they make minimal payments each month. Again, I have a relative by marriage paying around $120 per month on several different hospital bills because they cannot afford to purchase supplemental Medicare insurance.

    This is not about the people we see in the emergency rooms and make a judgment about their ethnicity or where they are from, it is about all of us who live and work in this country. Agree that some take advantage in so many ways. Not taking care of their health when they do have choices but choose to eat junk food diets, consume too many soft drinks, and live sedentary lives that end up creating serious health problems.

    There will always be abuses of the system but after thinking, reasoning, and praying about it, that is inherent in the human condition and we cannot allow the few to deprive the many of essential services. I am not Solomon and don’t have the answers but I do support trying to improve access and affordability but at the same time, include as much prevention of abuse as possible. Politicizing health care access is unnecessary and counterproductive and it is time for both sides to realize there are no perfect solutions but they can come as close as possible if they are willing to abandon their partisan politics and consider what is best for all, not just the few.

    Sorry for the “wall of text”. Just wanted to get this out there for consideration.

    1. Doug Ross

      ” Politicizing health care access is unnecessary and counterproductive ”

      If it involves using taxes to pay for healthcare, it WILL be politicized. If it is run by the government, it WILL be inefficient. No amount of wishing and moralizing will change that. Taxes become bargaining chips for lobbyists and politicians. Government run entities do not have the proper level of accountability to drive efficiency.

      There is no solution to the problem. Any why is that? Because unlike the people you mentioned in your post, the government doesn’t make tough choices. Deficit spending removes the incentive to make choices. Idealists and neo-cons who think our obligation to the rest of the world exceeds our obligation to our own people have locked us into an unsustainable death spiral. Liberals who think everyone has a “right” to “free” healthcare have created millions of people who will accept a safety net level of existence as all they want.

      Want to drive down costs? Remove the artificial barriers that increase them. Every government regulation the protects Big Pharma, insurance companies, and healthcare providers is driving up the costs.

  6. Bob Amundson

    According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in the United States (in 2015), 49% of the population was covered by employer based health insurance. Twenty (20) percent were covered by Medicaid, 14% by Medicare, 9% covered by non-group or some other form of public health insurance, and 9% unemployed.

    The 49% covered by employer insurance do not pay income taxes on their premiums. One solution is to end that pre-tax deduction, but that would be tough to do since probably 48.5% of the population would not be happy with the tax increase.

    Like POTUS said, it’s complicated.

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