Any change to existing law that alters who does and who doesn’t have those sweet little insurance cards in their pockets is really big stuff. And since those pesky politicians are looking at that issue right now, I think it’s time someone ripped into them—on both sides of the aisle. Don’t you?
The Republicans’ first vote to repeal Obamacare was on January 19, 2011, just days after they took control of the House. And while that and the 50-plus subsequent votes to do the same have still not resulted in any change to the law, the base of the Republican party got to see their elected officials wage a Braveheart-style war on a law that few Americans even understood. Bad policy, good politics.
At the same time, the Democrats filed their nails and put no significant effort into making any changes to fix problems with Obamacare. “With the Republicans controlling the House, what’s the point of fighting a battle we can’t win?” Even the fiasco of the 2013 rollout under the inept leadership of Kathleen Sebelius (great hair, no skill) didn’t ring the alarm bells loudly enough.
When the Democrats lost the Senate in 2014, the response in relation to health care was to put down the nail file and pick up the fiddle. “Washington can’t be burning up totally, for heaven’s sake. The Republicans are running Donald Trump for president.” Cue fiddle music.
It’s almost as if we’re living in a house whose roof has been badly damaged in a hail storm. (This analogy comes easily because I’ve been there.) The Republicans seem to be saying, “Well, let’s just tear the house down.” Across the aisle, the Democrats respond by saying, “Well, it’s raining inside the house, but that’s better than no house at all. Besides, you don’t want to repair the roof—you want to take the insurance money and buy a fishing boat.”
Meanwhile, the children of this dysfunctional political couple are staying in the rooms where the roof still holds, praying that Mommy and Daddy will stop fighting and fix the problem.
So here we are.
The Republicans are facing the dilemma of passing a bad bill or reneging on years of campaign promises by not passing anything at all. They can try to avoid the political fallout in 2018 by blaming the Democrats, but the American people—sometimes—are not as dumb as politicians think. And we know the Republicans own Washington right now—lock, stock and lobbyists.
Meanwhile, some Democrats are taking a page out of Sarah Palin’s “death panel” playbook (Lord, help us) with Elizabeth Warren calling the tax cuts in the Republican bill “blood money” and no less than Hillary Clinton saying that the Republicans will be the “death party” if they pass this bill.
Back in February, Trump famously said, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Well, actually, there are some who did. All of the people who made adult decisions to do what was necessary to get and keep those sweet little insurance cards did. All of the people who couldn’t get those cards and had to turn their well-being over to the tender mercies of public health care did. All of the people who, based on disability or disadvantage, turned the cartwheels required to get access to government programs did.
And all of those people who went without health care at all certainly did.
Some of those elected officials in Washington who make their “policy” decisions with one eye on the polls and the other eye on the next election probably think it’s complicated as well. Not, perhaps, because they are struggling with what the right thing to do might be. But because, right now, and perhaps for the first time, they know that we know that it’s not Obama’s health care, nor is it Trump’s health care. It’s our health care—and this time, it’s personal.
With no new high profile open congressional hearings in the last couple of weeks, our nation turns its lonely eyes, not to Joe DiMaggio, but to the pending Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).
How the president can be expected to get on board with a bill, which its very name implies is not the best care, just better, is beyond me.