“Skinny Repeal” was a Big Fat Failure

The Political Great Whine is a one person shop and has not been able to effectively keep up with all the drama surrounding all of the activity that is going on at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Very little of the activity has been legislative in origin…at least not until last night! Finally, everyone was watching the Senate floor with “bated breath” wondering what would become of the “Skinny Repeal” which was a scaled down proposal to repeal a good chunk of the Affordable Care Act better known as “ObamaCare”.

What in the heck was a “Skinny Repeal” Anyway?
The official “Skinny Repeal” bill is called H.R. 1628 and its intent was to rollback many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a ObamaCare) by doing such things as:

  1. Getting rid of the individual mandate that required everyone to have insurance or pay a penalty.
  2. Getting rid of the employer mandate for 8 years, giving companies the option to NOT provide affordable health insurance to employees for a specified time.
  3. Allowing states to develop their own health care systems via waiving many of the ACA’s regulations.
  4. Increasing contribution limits to health savings accounts (HSAs) for three years
  5. Defunding Planned Parenthood and provide those funds to Community Health Centers instead.

That is just a nutshell, but you can read CNN’s or Politico’s summary of the bill.

Why not just eliminate that darn “individual mandate” and be done?
At the center of ACA and the focal point of the proposed “skinny repeal” is the individual mandate that requires all Americans, including healthy ones, to opt-in or pay a penalty.  The reason often given for removing it is that healthy, young people should not be “forced” to get coverage that they do not need. It has repeatedly been stated that it is not fair that healthy people have to pay for something they are not using. The problem with that line of thinking is that ALL insurance products work that way! For example, if you have a vehicle, then you are required to have auto insurance and if you do not, you will be penalized. There are many people who drive safely, obey the traffic laws, and have not had any accidents. Then there are those drivers who tailgate every car, drive like a “bat outta hell”, and think only losers obey traffic laws! You know that for those drivers, an accident is just waiting to happen. Still “Safe Driver Joe” and “Bad Driver John” must both pay their auto insurance premiums and may even be insured by the same company. If only bad drivers were required to have auto insurance, the insurance companies would go out of business. The Affordable Care Act is not socialized medicine whereby the government is the provider of health care services (i.e. VA hospitals), but rather is supposed to provide funds to help those who need health insurance pay for it in the capitalist market system.

Would the “Skinny Repeal” have Fulfilled the Campaign Promise?
Throughout Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he promised to “repeal and replace” the failure known as ObamaCare and that it would be done quickly and easily…in fact in one day! The entire Republican Party united behind Trump’s campaign promise and made his promise their promise.  In order to understand whether a “skinny repeal” would have made good on the promise, we must first understand the promise. ObamaCare has been called a failure because in order to comply with the requirement to purchase health insurance, many people purchase plans that have low monthly premiums but very high deductibles which means you are essentially paying out of pocket!  Those who are the poorest qualify for subsidies to cover the premiums but unfortunately, they also tend to be the sickest, That is a huge problem for health insurance companies who participate in the ACA and once their losses exceed their revenue they opt-out or leave ObamaCare. As the number of participating health insurance companies decrease, so does the competition which increases the out-of-pocket costs even more. Bottomline: The Affordable Care Act (ACA)  allow many people to get much needed health care, but there are still many people in the middle who are paying ACA premiums but still unable to afford health care due to the high deductibles! For example, someone who may be between jobs and have a lapse in coverage would be a candidate for ObamaCare. Let’s say that the only thing they can reasonably afford is a $150 premium with a $10,000/annual deductible! Well, for someone who is not chronically ill, that deductible would never be reached by the end of the year but they would have paid $1,800 in monthly premiums. That may be a lot for the individual, but is only chump change to the health insurance company.

So the promise was that Republicans would remove something that was not helping everyone afford health insurance and replace it with something that would. The promise was NOT to just take something away and leave nothing. So the “Skinny Repeal” bill would not have fulfilled the promise. Also, simply allowing ACA to continue to fail is not helpful either. Putting many American people in a predicament where they will have to take ANYTHING in order to have something, is not a good approach and is just not right. We were promised something BETTER than ObamaCare.

Senator John McCain – Forever a Hero and a “Maverick”
Thursday night was a very long night that went into Friday morning as the Senators prepared to vote on the “Skinny Repeal” bill.  Although the Republicans control all branches of the government, it became apparent that not all of them were supportive of the bill. To successfully pass, the vote would have at least had to be tied 50/50 which would allowed Vice-President Pence to break the tie as he has done before. This time…it was different. It was rumored that there were THREE Republicans who were preparing to vote ‘No’ and Senator John McCain was one of them.  At 80 years old, Senator McCain was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma. Still he asked and received approval from his doctors to return to the Senate floor to vote on this bill. Earlier in the week, he chided his Republican colleagues for doing the same thing that Democrats did with the ACA in 2009 which was to rush something through without any debate or input from all sides.  Senator Mitch McConnell knew that he had his work cut out for him with McCain but was hopeful that maybe SOMEBODY…ANYBODY could talk to him and get him to vote ‘yes’.  No one was even trying to persuade the two Republican females, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), but focused all of their efforts on Senator McCain. What would McCain do? Would he side with his political party and vote ‘yes’ or would he vote based on what he thinks is truly best for the people? The video below shows the dramatic moment that the senator made his vote known:

He decided to do what was best for all Americans and encouraged Congress to do what the Constitutional framers intended which is to have real debates about legislation based on what they are hearing from the people they represent. In an official statement from Senator John McCain, he provided an explanation for why he voted the way he did.

The Political Great Whine would like to send a heartfelt “Thank You” to Senator McCain for putting the American people before political party. We deserve to get what was promised, which is to choose health insurance plans with affordable premiums and reasonable deductibles. Simply repealing ACA may have scored points for a political party, but it would have left many people stranded. It is time to hold our representatives accountable and remind them that we elected them…not the President.  Remember when Congressman Devin Nunez shared information with the White House that he got from the White House and his colleague Congressman Ted Yoho’s defense of Nunes was that what he did was okay because he worked for the President?  Below is a reminder:

I am sure the framers of the Constitution rolled over in their graves!  The legislative branch does not work for the executive branch, it’s job is to CHECK the executive branch!  Anyway…the reason that Senator John McCain has represented the state of Arizona for as long as he has, is because he knows what his job is and who he represents.  He is a true hero and a real maverick.

Until Next Time
Thanks for “listening” to me whine. Hopefully my whining has made you think. If so, tell your friends/family/colleagues that you heard it through the Political Great Whine!

 

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