Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Ultimate Fate of Obamacare (?)

A few years ago, I created a graphic for this blog for my Broken News feature and used it a few times since then because, damn it, I thought it was pretty cool.

What prompted this observation was the official roll out of Obamacare was hardly a model of efficiency with the computer sites central to the program crashing almost immediately after it was launched. The Titanic made it further than the Obamacare websites.  

Oh we had some fun with that, didn't we? 

But in the intervening years, Obamacare has been a good thing for two particular groups of people.

One was those who were uninsured. Over 20 million people who lacked insurance now have it because of Obamacare. The rate of those lacking health care insurance is the lowest in this country in years. 

The other group that Obamacare was good for was the Republican Party. At election time and in stump speeches between elections, Republican members of Congress would try to outdo each other on who could pound the podium the hardest when vowing on the graves of their grandfathers (who may or may not actually be dead) that they would by God vote to repeal Obamacare. 

It was good for business. Obamacare was sold to Republican constituents as the work of the devil himself, a conflagration of hellfire and brimstone out to destroy the very bedrock of American society. And whoever proclaimed the loudest they're intent, their vow, their oath of blood that they would rise up and run the silver sword of God's own angels through the heart of Obamacare itself, those guys would win. 

Of course, nothing would ever happen. The Republicans kept passing measures to repeal Obamacare and once in a while, one would actually make it to the President's desk and President Obama would chuckle, shake his head at this foolishness and veto the sucker. And since it takes more votes to override a veto than it does to vote for anything else, Obamacare would still stand. 

As I said, it was good for business for the Republicans. And it looked like it would be a status quo that would continue when Hillary Clinton became President. I mean, who in their right fucking mind would actually vote for Donald Trump, right?

Funny thing about that. 

So Donald (or Li'l Donnie as I like to call him) kept repeating on the campaign trail that Obamacare was the absolute worse thing to ever happen to anyone anywhere and if elected President, Obamacare would be repealed and replaced. 

Yes, you, in the back row, you have question? 

Reader: "Yes, Dave-El, I was wondering... by the way, love the blog..." 

Me: "Thank you." 

Reader: "So if the Republicans were telling everyone that Obamacare was the worst thing ever, why say repeal AND replace? Why not just repeal?" 

That is a very good question. You see, while the hatred of Obamacare was a good tool to get constituencies riled up to vote for Republicans during election, there was the inescapable fact that some people... OK, quite a lot of people who thought Obamacare was quite all right. Might need to be fixed up a little, do something about those mandates, that sort of thing. To just repeal Obamacare would pull the rug right out from under 20 million plus people who have insurance through the program. These Republicans are not THAT heartless. But the Republican National Committee does have a number of exploratory heart removal plans in development. 

Also Obamacare has been integrated into so many other health care systems, it's out right repeal would cost millions of dollars. So that's why Republicans have to say "repeal AND replace".   

Funny thing about that. 

Every since even the earliest days of debate on health care reform, Republicans have countered they have a better plan. And then they would pat down their pockets, muttering, "It's around here someplace" and then move on. There has never been a comprehensive plan for heath care reform from the Republicans and there's a good reason for that. Any form of effective health care reform is going to involve some degree of public funding and some degree of federal oversight, both of which are anathema to political conservatives. 

In short, Republicans in Congress have a really good handle on the "repeal" part; they have fuck all in the way of the "replace" part. 

Which brings us up to the mighty fine mess of shit we're in now. 

Republicans in control of both houses of Congress who have made a career of promising to bring down Obamacare. 

And a Republican in the White House who will sign off on it. 

At first, the giddiness was powerful. Incredibly white men with incredibly coiffed hair just dancing around, grinning, laughing and singing: 

Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! 
The witch is dead! 
The witch is dead!
Ding! Dong! The wicked witch is dead!!

At some point somebody said, "Hey, what about all these flying monkeys?" 

And the incredibly white men with incredibly coiffed hair realized they didn't want to deal with all these flying monkeys. But if you kill the witch, you now have to deal with the flying monkeys! 

OK, I think that metaphor got away from me. 

In simpler terms, you break it, you own it.

And one by one, certain Republicans in Congress began to express some concern about repealing Obamacare without a replacement.  

Maybe we can replace it later, the incredibly white men with incredibly coiffed hair wondered. But repeal and replace later is just as bad as repeal and no replace. In the case of Obamacare, that means more insurance companies dropping out of the program or upping premiums which increases the costs incurred by the US Government. If the whole program collapses, then 20 million plus people are without insurance and...

Well, you get the idea. 

So maybe they should just forget this whole repeal thing. You know, a couple of measures here and there, a few re-appropriation bills, Obamacare will work just fine. 

Ahem! That little cough comes from the extremely hard core conservative right who have been promised (PROMISED, I TELLS YOU!) for YEARS that these guys would repeal Obamacare. And guess who's getting voted out on their asses if they don't? 

Meanwhile, Li'l Donnie is telling Congress, "Vote for repeal but only if you have a replacement ready to go."  

But the orange boy in the big man suit does have a point. If nothing else, he knows his audience. Many of the communities with the biggest increases in health insurance coverage since 2008 were Republican-leaning places that voted for President-elect Donald Trump. 


Look, I can make this simple for you.  

Replace this...

With another program that has all the features of Obamacare but with one significant difference. 

It fixes the part you were all really pissed off about in the first place. 

You're welcome. 

And everyone, be good to one another.  

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