Felicia Muftic: The great health care debate, round 2
Grand County, CO Colorado
Round two of the great debate on health care reform has begun. The Obama administration won the first round. Their proposal is now law.
The second began last Friday in Congress as Republicans voted to defund it as part of the budget approval process. Since Democrats still control the Senate and the White House, this round is likely to be a draw.
GOP strategy for the third round, to use it as a campaign issue in 2012, is irresponsible, mostly ideologically based, and sometimes contradicts other conservative principles.
In January, the Senate voted down Republican efforts to repeal “Obamacare.” The GOP strategy appears to have shifted. The “replacement” element of last year’s slogan of “repeal; replace” rarely crosses a Republicans’ lips. Republicans have buried replacement proposals in the locker room of four House committees with no deadline to report out.
Instead, House leadership is doubling down on their “kill Obamacare” slogan, using this battle cry to elect more in 2012 who can deliver the knock out punch.
Last session, Republicans made some informal proposals to replace “Obamacare.” Those proposals have been evaluated by the nonpartisan, independent Congressional Budget Office as falling short of what “Obamacare” would achieve, including contributing to debt reduction two times more than anything proposed by the GOP so far or, adding 12 years to the solvency of Medicare, or funding consumer protection provisions. While previous Republican assertions have been health care costs can be lowered using other methods, the CBO figured GOP plans would make health care costs affordable to no more than the 3 million of the 30 million of those who cannot afford it now. Big deal.
Republicans voted Friday to defund “Obamacare” without presenting a comparable replacement plan. That is fiscally irresponsible. Without an effective plan to cut health care costs, families will soon pay half of their income for insurance and our national debt will be blown out of the water.
Instead, to avoid embarrassing cold arithmetic should the replacement proposals see daylight again, the GOP is making a pre-emptive punch below the belt. They are attempting to kill the messenger, the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Republicans dismissed in advance of hearings as garbage in/garbage out any CBO projections that did not support their talking points while accepting other CBO estimates.
What about amending the law to make it more palatable? That was nowhere on the house agenda last week. According to Politico, Teaparty founder Dick Armey urged Congressional Teapartiers to reject any such attempts. He feared if the bill is made more popular, opponents would have more difficulty killing it.
The GOP is continuing to play to fears about government takeover and control, centering the debate on provisions mandating that all must have health insurance coverage if they do not have insurance through employers or other means.
What terrible insurance are the uninsured being mandated to buy? Insurance similar to the one Congressional members tap: It is a large pool group plan, but comprised of competing private, non governmental insurers and administered by the government. Such a plan seems OK for Congress members, but not for anyone else.
The constitutionality of the mandate issue will be decided by the Supreme Court. Killing mandates is popular to many, but also a provision popular with many is requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The mandate provisions makes coverage of pre-existing conditions fiscally practical.
To keep costs low require that the healthy are included in the pool and risks are spread around. The GOP bases their opposition on an ideology that opposes government requiring anyone to buy something.
Mandates also protect us from freeloaders who demand medical care without paying for insurance. They would stick the rest of us with their unpaid bills. Charity and expensive ER care costs get passed onto insurance subscribers. Since when has freeloading been a conservative value?
But no one ever claimed ideology must be practical or free of contradictions.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.