Back when Obamacare was being negotiated, Congress could have circumvented the private insurance industry by simply expanding Medicare to cover everybody. Medicare isn’t perfect, of course, but it remains one of the most popular institutions in America because its single-payer model guarantees access to decent, cost-effective healthcare rather than just meager health insurance. It also does a good job of preventing profit-taking middlemen from getting between patients and their physicians.
Obamacare doesn’t do all that. It certainly includes some important reforms, but it doesn’t do what a single-payer system does—it doesn’t guarantee better healthcare or a more simple health system.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Move over, website woes. Lawmakers confronted the Obama administration Tuesday with a difficult new health care problem — a wave of cancellation notices hitting individuals and small business who buy their own insurance.
At the same time, the federal official closest to the website apologized for its dysfunction in new sign-ups and asserted things are getting better by the day.
Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said it’s not the administration but insurers who are responsible for cancellation letters now reaching many of the estimated 14 million people who buy individual policies. And, officials said, people who get cancellation notices will be able to find better replacement plans, in some cases for less.
Once state health insurance exchanges take effect, and premiums for all Americans go down, Republicans know the law will only become more popular and harder to repeal.
As Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It’s a lot harder to undo something than it is to stop it in the first place.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already the law of the land: passed by both Houses of Congress in 2010, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court last year, it cannot be changed unless its opponents capture majorities in both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. Since Obama campaigned on the ACA in 2012, and Romney campaigned against it, and Obama won the presidency by over 5 million votes (and the GOP lost seats in both Houses of Congress), it is clear that the “repeal” of the ACA was rejected by the voters as well. Surely most of the members of Congress, who are typically lawyers and took constitutional law, know this. Instead, we get this farce about “defunding Obamacare.” Never mind that the GOP doesn’t have the votes to do this; never mind the fact that most of the ACA is already in place, or going into effect the day the stalemate started with a stampede of people signing up to join it; never mind that much of the spending is mandatory and cannot be changed by Congress. As Igor Volsky pointed out:
“Inter-party squabbling aside, defunding Obamacare in the continuing resolution would only target the parts of the law that are subject to annual appropriations. The pillars of reform — Medicaid expansion, the subsidies used to buy insurance — are exempt from this process and are funded through so-called “mandatory” spending and have permanent funding authority. The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency tasked with implementing reform, also “has the ability to fund related provisions without seeking additional appropriations from Congress.”
Given that they’re trying to close the barn door after the horses have run off, either the ACA opponents in Congress display an appalling level of ignorance of the basic functions of their jobs, or they are cynically playing the sheep that follow them with empty promises they know they cannot fulfill. Either way, the entire game of chicken came to an end after 16 disastrous days, when the anger of the American public at the closure of their government finally forced the GOP to cave with nothing to show for it but historically low poll numbers. Meanwhile, $24 billion was wasted with all the side effects of the government shutdown, and the damaging effects on the economy are still not tabulated.