The Real Dangers of Repealing Obamacare
Here we go again. The Republicans have that itch in their teeth to rip apart Obamacare for the 60th something time. There is no truly accurate account of how many times Republicans have tried to repeal some or all of the bill, because they've done it so many times that it's become impossible to follow. But, so far, their efforts have been to no avail. That's about to change.
Let's start by acknowledging the fact that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is far from perfect. The earliest gripe about the program from users after the act went through, was that the website crashed almost immediately. OK. Fair enough. That's annoying. But maybe if we didn't have millions of Americans desperately clambering for health care after years of being financially deprived of it, the website could've handled the influx. See how the actual problem is what caused the problem cited by Republicans? You're gonna wanna get used to that, because we have a lot of it coming in the near future. Also, does anyone remember what it was like trying to sign up for insurance before healthcare.gov launched? It was a comparable pain in the ass.
One of the major problems that I, as well as no small number of my fellow countrymen, experienced immediately was the daunting expense of this newly available health care option. For just my wife and I, no accidents (or kids, as you may know them), we were looking at over $500 a month. Bear in mind, we're not maimed or sickly as a collective. We aren't accident prone or involved in dangerous careers or hobbies. The Obamacare option was just expensive as shit.
The reason for the expensive nature of the ACA was a direct result of GOP interference. They refused to expand Medicaid, while simultaneously setting the bar to qualify for assistance from Obamacare as low as $11,700 per person annually for single individuals. That means that people just above that bracket ($12,000 in annual income) would have to decide between food and new curtains for their cardboard box, or health insurance. There's no way they could afford both. Essentially, the GOP made sure to price low income people out of the market by stinting Medicaid and setting an impossibly low fiscal bar for those who intended to use the new insurance marketplace, so that they could declare the program a failure. And, in addition to their amazing contributions to the evolution of health care in America, Republicans assigned the cutesy title of 'Obamacare' to the bill. This ensured that all of their supporters who turn into flaccid, yet impossibly rabid, beasts at the very mention of Obama's name, would oppose the legislation with the little-to-no-information that they've become so accustomed to.
But that's all yesterday's news. Now our thoughts are being deafened with a cacophony of the cries of “Repeal and replace!” The problem is that Republican lawmakers have it backwards. They should be having wet dreams about 'Replace and repeal.'
To be fair, Conservatives do have a few ideas about how to replace Obamacare once they takeover every branch of government. They can't seem to agree on a fucking direction, a dangerous predicament for their fast and hard day one proposal, but some ideas are being floated.
Republicans insist that they'll keep in the stuff about insurance companies not being able to manipulate payments based on pre-existing conditions, as well as the measure that kids under 26 can stay on their parents insurance, giving them a chance to finish school without costly insurance payments stifling them. These are, by far, the most popular portions of the ACA, after all. Of course, the GOP's plan to protect patients with pre-existing conditions comes with a fairly significant caveat. Patients can only be guaranteed this safety net if they don't have a lapse in coverage once Obamacare is repealed. They have to be grandfathered in, taking no breath during this radical vicissitude to our freshly established health care system. However, given the direction of the incoming administration, I'm sure that it won't be long before we see a State of the Union address with the new Commander-in-Tweet stating “We're gonna get rid of pre-existing conditions, and Finland's gonna pay for it. Believe me.”
The fact of the matter is that almost every Conservative answer to Obamacare involves getting rid of the individual mandate, which will negatively affect the existence of pre-existing condition forgiveness. If you take enough healthy people off of health insurance, it's gonna create a bubble. This is because healthy people will drop their insurance because they rarely use it, and there won't be anything to offset the cost of sick patients who use their insurance frequently. That means that there are only two entities left to absorb those costs. It's either you as the tax payer, or the US Government. I think we all know where that dart lands.
Senator/Dr. Rand Paul recently discussed one GOP 'replace' plan that involved setting up “health savings accounts” that would make it possible to save up for health insurance. You know... The exact same thing that anyone with expendable income could do all on their own. To be clear, Paul didn't say that this was his idea. He seemed to be merely conveying the information. But either way, it's the kind of idea that pisses in the shoes of the notion that health care is a basic human right that should be granted to all.
Dr. Ben Carson also saw fit to weigh in, (only napping at a rate of twice per sentence) on the replace portion of this conversation. It is the position of the good doctor that “The free market controls cost and quality.” Ok. But if that was already working, then why did we see an increase of an estimated 20 million insured people under the evil cloud of Obamacare? If we had a free market system for health care before the initiative, and what Carson says is true, why did we ever need such a program in the first place? Lunging a step further, why don't we put fire and police departments in the free market as well, given that it's such a great barometer for 'cost and quality?' Is it because those agencies save lives, unlike medical professionals who just... Oh...
The part of this conversation that should be most frustrating to everyone though, is the fact that the GOP is deadset on repealing the health care umbrella of millions of Americans with nothing in place as a substitution. It's easy to magnify the flaws of an initiative, and then use that information to destroy it in it's entirety. It's a lot harder to identify those issues, and then offer something better. They keep decreeing that they'll have a plan to replace the massive bill within hours of repealing it, but they have yet to present a solid version of that plan to us. Failure to hold the Republicans accountable to a solution before they eliminate their perceived problem, will set a very dangerous and venomous tone for the up coming administration. It will set the precedent that they can run roughshod over laws that were in place before they took office, absent of them offering us anything better, or even new. The bottom line is that if Obamacare is repealed before a suitable plan for replacing it is achieved, people will literally die. These are the stakes, and they should be weighed carefully.