The Government You Paid For

Number 5

The matter of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has come up before:

A follow-up investigation by the PolitiFact.com brought the conclusion: this is a pants on fire not true. PolitiFact concludes:

Our ruling

The Facebook post tells the story of a man who says he opted out of Obamacare soon after the marketplace was launched on Oct. 1, 2013, and was informed that he owed a fine of more than $4,000.

The post includes many elements that make no sense or are flat-out wrong — and can be easily debunked by reading the law or reliable summaries of it. We rate it Pants on Fire.

That was nearly four years ago, and the tussle continues. Donald Trump has since been elected President on the promise of repealing and replacing the ACA. This scheme has not been working out. Republicans in  Congress submitted 60 pieces of legislation to this purpose while Mr. Obama was President. The President vetoed all of them, said vetoes being sustained, because Republicans in Congress did not have enough votes to  override the vetoes.

Now that Mr. Trump is President, and now that Republicans control both houses of Congress, there should be no problem repealing and/or replacing the ACA. Except, the Republicans all this time never had a plan for doing that exact thing. The ACA, which Donald Trump promised to dispose of his first day in office, is still on the books, and Republicans are making little progress toward achieving their previously-stated goal. The squabble continues.

All of this prompted me to contact a key senator from my home state. I found his Web page and filled out a message form. I essentially requested that he consider the wellbeing of all the people of Texas and not just the wishes of those who supported his re-election. After a few days I received a response by email:

Senator Cornyn <SenateWebmail@cornyn.senate.gov>

Aug 5 at 7:54 AM

To jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Dear John:

Thank you for contacting me with your suggestions regarding health care reform. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.

The existing American health care system faces a myriad of complex challenges. The 2010 passage of sweeping health care reform continues to have dramatic implications for our health care system and for all 321 million Americans.

I often hear the frustration of Texans struggling to meet their health care needs in the existing system and understand the importance of implementing common-sense reforms that achieve results. Under the Affordable Care Act (P. L. 111-148), premiums have increased by more than 105 percent since 2013, and one-third of all counties in the United States have only one option on their exchange. Moreover, 6.5 million families preferred to pay a tax penalty in 2015 rather than purchase a government-approved health care plan, costing a combined total of $3 billion. Meaningful health care reform is necessary.

To this end, I have supported legislative proposals that place patients, their families, and their doctors at the center of health care decisions, rather than government bureaucrats. As the Senate continues to debate how we can improve upon our current system, I will keep your views in mind and support realistic reforms to lower health care costs, address entitlement spending, and increase access to affordable health coverage.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
 And that was most gratifying. Of course, I do not think for a minute that a busy United States Senator takes time out to answer all his correspondence (maybe he does), but I am sure the above represents the thinking of Senator John Cornyn of Texas. To that end, I consider his closing statement most interesting:
To this end, I have supported legislative proposals that place patients, their families, and their doctors at the center of health care decisions, rather than government bureaucrats.

We have seen these past months how that is working out. This from Forbes:

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 24 million fewer people will have health insurance by 2026 under the House GOP plan to replace Obamacare. That projection is unsurprising, and quite likely overstated. But what is surprising about the CBO report is the ways in which it makes the GOP bill look better than expected, and how it points to how the bill can be improved.

There is more besides this, and you can read the linked page to get the rest. But that is the gist. The Republican-controlled House voted in place (not enacted) a plan to replace the ACA, said plan being predicted to put millions more people among the uninsured. Apparently somebody has missed  the point. The purpose of the ACA was to add more people to the ranks of those having health (medical) insurance.

Of course, Mr. Cornyn works for the Senate, which must also come up with a plan. It may be of interest how that’s working out. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was edging toward collapse on Monday after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.

Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Monday that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who made the same pledge on Friday. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.

Right! Not only has the Senate been able to come up with a bill to improve on the ACA, but key Republican senators have refused to vote for one that was submitted for vote. Since publication of the above item, Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona, also declined to vote for the bill. Seeing as how the Republican Party has only a two-vote edge, Senator McCain’s vote killed the Republican proposal.

Despite Senator Cornyn’s best intentions, the United States Congress is not going to be able to improve on the ACA without discarding a half a basket full of outworn notions. They are going to need to get past objections against a bunch of people obtaining health insurance with premiums paid by others. They are also going to need to acknowledge universal medical care is a benefit to the American economy, those benefits including:

  • More people working productively rather than languishing at home, unable to work.
  • Reduced costs with people having debilitating illness going to their doctor rather than crowding hospital emergency rooms.
  • Reduced medical costs, as more people receive preventive care and do not develop serious medical issues.

And likely more.

Readers, it is to your benefit to contact your congressman and senator. These people depend on your vote to return to office next year in the case of your House representative and to the Senate in the case of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. If you don’t let them know, and in great numbers, they are going to think that next year’s election will be another walk-on part in the drama currently playing out in Washington.

Advertisements

One thought on “The Government You Paid For

  1. Pingback: Buyer’s Remorse | Skeptical Analysis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s