Monday Wake Up Call – Repair and Replace Edition

Where is the GOP plan for repealing and “replacing” Obamacare? It has been moved to an off-ramp on the Trump highway. Why? WaPo’s Greg Sargent explains: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

For weeks now, Republicans have employed a range of tortured talking points designed to push one idea: The GOP repeal-and-delay plan will not leave anyone without health coverage, and is merely designed as a transition that will ultimately move us seamlessly to the new, improved health care system Republicans envision, with the details to be worked out later.

The GOP’s problem is that several red states could be taken out of the individual insurance market completely. The Congressional Budget Office recently examined a version of the GOP repeal-and-delay bill (one passed by Republicans in 2015 and vetoed by Obama), and concluded that insurers would exit the market, and 10% of Americans could be living in an area that had no participating insurers at all.

And that 10% of the population is concentrated in Republican areas.

Jeanne Lambrew, a former Obama administration official involved in implementing the ACA, conducted an analysis to determine where that 10% percent resides. Using data furnished by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Lambrew singled out counties that met two criteria:

  • They have low populations
  • They currently only have one insurer serving individual market customers

It’s a big list. The states include: Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In addition some at risk counties are in swing or blue states like North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Illinois. And in a few cases, entire states would lose coverage. In Oklahoma, Wyoming, Arizona, South Carolina and Alabama, individual markets would be completely eliminated.

In other words, Repealing and delaying Replacement could be a political bloodbath for Republicans, at least in the House in 2018. And the GOP knows it. At the GOP Strategy Meeting in Philadelphia, Tom McClintock (R-CA) said: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created with repeal. That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.

The judgement has already started. The LA Times reports that the execrable Rep. McClintock ran into a buzz saw at his raucous town hall meeting in Roseville CA:

The California congressman ultimately was escorted out by police.

KQED’s Katie Orr reported that the 200 seats for the town hall set up by the Republican in Roseville, CA were filled, and hundreds more people remained outside. More from the LA Times:

McClintock is one of many members of Congress who have been encountering protests at their district offices or town hall meetings since President Trump took office just over two weeks ago. Most protesters have been asking members to fight the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act…

Some Republicans seem to be open to “repair” instead of replacing Obamacare. The term “Repair” was suggested by Republican wordmeister Frank Luntz. Luntz, according to Bloomberg, recommended the term because it:

Captures exactly what the large majority of the American people want…the public is particularly hostile about skyrocketing costs, and they demand immediate change.

Luntz understands that Americans want their health insurance to be both generous in terms of coverage, and affordable in terms of premiums. The ACA tries to deliver that by subsidizing poorer people’s premiums. Those subsidies cost money, and that money is partly funded by taxes on the rich.

But Republicans got elected by promising to reduce rich people’s taxes. This means whether they replace or repair, their plans involve rolling back the taxes paid by the rich. That leaves less money to subsidize insurance for the non-rich, and that means the non-rich will either pay higher premiums, or accept worse coverage.

Keeping voters in Red States on board with the GOP requires that they abandon repeal, or pass a repeal/replace bill that essentially leaves the law intact.

If they repeal the tax increases and use deficit financing, they could accomplish 90% of what their main constituents, plutocrats and the white working class, care about. Whether they are smart enough to go this route is questionable.

Time for Congress to wake up! Time is against them since they voted to repeal the ACA 50+ times, but STILL have no plan for replacing it. To help them wake up, here are Jeff Beck, Lizzie Ball (violin), Tal Wilkenfeld (bass) & Jonathan Joseph (drums), playing the Irish instrumental “Women of Ireland” live at the “Crossroads Guitar Festival” in Madison Square Garden NYC, on April 13th 2013:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ej_X2_SggQ

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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