Whenever I get bored and want to try a Alice Through the Looking Glass/acid trip experience I just head on over to Salon. They rarely disappoint:
A quick look at the House and Senate vote calendars indicates that Congress did not in fact come back into session over the holidays to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which means that as of today (depending on how you count it) millions and millions of people who were previously uninsured now have comprehensive healthcare coverage.
There’s the 3-or-so million young adults under 26 who have been covered under their parents plans for a couple of years now, about 4 million new Medicaid beneficiaries, and some large percentage of the 2 million who have enrolled in a private plan via Healthcare.gov or one of 14 state-based insurance exchanges and submitted their first premium payment.
Their benefits are now active, which means proponents of repealing the law have a severe entropy problem on their hands. Just like you can’t re-create an erased image by unshaking an Etch-A-Sketch, you can no longer re-create the pre-Obamacare status quo by repealing the law. Some new beneficiaries would be returned to the ranks of the uninsured, just as they were before, but others would return to an individual market they were happy to leave behind, and even the thin skim of people who were happy with plans that have been canceled wouldn’t necessarily be able to reclaim them.
After spending three months effusing sympathy for people who’ve had their insurance plans canceled, Republicans can’t really continue to support repeal while ignoring the (2 million? 6 million? 9 million?) who would lose their coverage as a result. But the GOP lacks a consensus replacement for Obamacare, and the plans that caucuses within the party do support don’t do anything for the new beneficiaries, and fall well short of Obamacare’s coverage expansion in the long run.
They’ve walked into a cul-de-sac planting mines behind themselves along the way.
Under the circumstances, it’d make a lot of sense for Republican leaders to seek a New Year’s détente. Stop pandering to their own voters by behaving as if outright repeal is an eventual possibility; stop fogging things up for their own constituents, many of whom would be better off if they understood what the law has to offer them. Democrats want to fix flaws in the Affordable Care Act, Republicans could agree to support some improvements in exchange for making the law system more GOP-friendly without undermining its structure.
But in the least shocking news you’ll hear all year, Republicans lack both the intent and ability to adopt a less combative approach to healthcare reform. They like how the last three months of 2013 unfolded politically (a three week government shutdown notwithstanding!) and will do whatever they can to make 2014 look a lot like that. They’ll probably even fund the government and increase the debt limit without inviting crises to keep the media focused on Obamacare.
This week they will begin exploiting for political gain the misfortunes of people who seek medical care under the impression that they’re covered only to find out, for some reason, that they’re not. These might be beneficiaries who, due to technical woes and clerical backlogs, are having trouble accessing their benefits, or people who thought they had enrolled but never actually did.
I like how the author posts the pictures of three Senate Republicans (Paul, Graham and McCain) when the Senate is controlled by the Democrats. I’m surprised that a picture of Ted Cruz isn’t up there too, considering he is the Progs’ new Emmanuel Goldstein.
The author mixes in all the standard talking points and tropes and even manages to throw in a cheap shot about the shutdown, as if people still care about that.
The new White House/Democrat/OFA talking point is the one about it being too late to reset the clock and start over. According to this new argument, the only option available is to “fix” the problems with Obamacare.
I’m curious though – what exactly are the Democratic plans to “fix” Obamacare? I don’t mean delay implementation, I mean to make it work the way it was advertised.
You know – better, cheaper, more people covered and if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.
So what’s the plan, Stan?