The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

The Republican majority in Congress has voted to kill the Affordable Care Act dozens of times. It’s done this knowing that President Obama would veto the bill, thus sparing members from the consequences.

So obviously, it was always a game. It was posturing before a public that largely didn’t know what Obamacare did for them.

Still, Republicans could have thrown the American people a crumb of respect by saying, “When the day comes, this is what we’re going to replace it with.” Or, “There’s no replacement. We’re just going back to the world before Obamacare.”

Either response would have been honest. Republicans would have put their cards on the table, exposing their ideas to scrutiny. And importantly, they would have let patients, doctors, hospitals, and insurers know what was up and plan for the future.

But that would have ended their game — which has been politics, not governing. Politics is telling people they can get what they want without paying for it. Governing is specifying where the money will come from. Governing, in short, requires work, much of it unpleasant.

In a matter of days, Donald Trump takes over the presidency. He’s demanded a repeal of Obamacare on “day one” of his administration. Congressional Republicans still don’t have a replacement, so they’ve designed a new game called “Repeal and Delay.”

This game operates under the dubious assumption that you can vote to repeal Obamacare but leave the benefits in place while you come up with a new plan. Or not. Many Republicans back passing a budget bill that strips Obamacare of funding, at which point it all would be over. Some are having second thoughts. Who knows what they’ll do.

The uncertainty, meanwhile, is traumatizing the health care system. Insurers are being jolted by a possible meltdown of their markets. Doctors who happily adjusted to Obamacare are rattled, while hospitals are already laying off people as a precaution.

A “slow-moving tsunami” is how Heidi Gartland, spokeswoman for University Hospitals in Cleveland, has described an Obamacare repeal. “In the aftermath of the tsunami,” she told Politico, “there’s devastating loss that we never could have planned for.”

And what about the American people? Some 20 million are at risk of losing their health coverage. The group includes large numbers for whom the stakes are extraordinarily high. They’re wondering whether they’ll be able to continue chemo treatments or get heart surgery.

If Republicans came out and said that “Obamacare is over, period,” the medically needy would at least be able to make their own arrangements — sell the house, file for bankruptcy, rewrite their will. But Republicans haven’t done them that minimal courtesy.

Republicans have floated a few vague ideas for replacing Obamacare — that’s true — but they’ve agreed on nothing. The most coherent plan, released earlier this year by House Speaker Paul Ryan, didn’t have a price tag on it, so why even bother?

It happens that Obamacare is overall a big success. It has slashed the number of uninsured and moderated health care spending. There are problems, but they are fixable problems. So this “downward spiral” talk is pure propaganda. But take the money away and the downward spiral becomes real.

One of the saddest scenes was thousands of Americans signing up for Obamacare right after Trump won the election. They were like refugees trying to get the last plane out of a war zone.

Every other modern nation guarantees health care as a right of citizenship. Even their conservative leaders don’t touch benefits that beat ours by a mile.

This Obamacare repeal game is, at bottom, an insult to the dignity of the American people. Actually, it’s a disgrace.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) signs a bill repealing Obamacare at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved legislation dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature health care plan, putting on his desk an election-year measure that faces a certain veto. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president, on Thursday issued what is being called a "chilling" statement on the election and the insurrection he incited.

"The insurrection took place on November 3, Election Day. January 6 was the Protest!" Trump said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

Keep reading... Show less

Rep. Matt Gaetz

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although Florida is a swing state, it has become a hotbed of MAGA extremism — from Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz to former President Donald Trump's operation at a Mar-a-Lago. But not everyone in Florida politics appreciates Trumpism or the Big Lie. And the bipartisan Florida Supervisors of Elections, according to Politico's Gary Fineout, are sending out a message urging political candidates to "tone down the rhetoric and stand up for our democracy."

Fineout notes that "the association is made up of members of both parties, and (its) current president is a Republican: Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox."

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}