Tag Archives: health insurance

Here it comes again: attempt to repeal ACA

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spilled the beans recently.

Congressional Republicans are going to make another run at trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, after the midterm election.

Now, it well might be that Democrats will wrest control of the House of Representatives from Republicans, which likely means that McConnell and short-timer House Speaker Paul Ryan will convene a “lame-duck” congressional session to get rid of the ACA.

Hmm. What a load of horse dookey.

Republicans all over the country — even here in Texas — are campaigning on a pledge to retain insurance for people with “pre-existing conditions.” They actually have accused Democratic candidates of trying to get rid of that provision.

The stark reality is that when Barack Obama was president and Congress was wrestling with ways to repeal the ACA, they fought tooth and nail, hammer and tong to get rid of that provision. Now they want to save it?

As former President Obama noted the other day, “that is a lie.”

McConnell’s stated desire to repeal the ACA also simply goes against prevailing public opinion about President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Polls have revealed significant public support for the ACA, given that it has provided millions of Americans with health insurance who couldn’t afford it.

Many of us agree that the ACA is far from perfect. But, why repeal it? Why not mend it, repair it, improve what needs improvement?

That kind of mending and repairing has been done. Medicare? Yep. Medicaid? Yes again. How did it happen when Congress enacted Medicare, for example, in 1965? It occurred when Democrats and Republicans sought common ground, worked toward compromise and — presto! — re-created a law that has been an indispensable part of Americans’ lives.

Compromise and common ground, though, has escaped the vocabularies of today’s politicians.

They need to look for them. Once they find them yet again, put those principles to good use.

Trump ponders new display of heartlessness

Donald John Trump Sr.’s next potential display of heartless public policy would hit yours truly a good bit more personally.

The president is now considering whether to end government subsidies of health insurance plans until Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. Such a move would render health insurance utterly unaffordable for millions of Americans. I happen to know that because our household benefited greatly from the subsidy.

Does the president have a clue as to what he’s pondering? Does he have any feeling in what passes for a heart for those who would be affected by a decision to pull the plug on these subsidies?

My wife and I had to purchase health insurance to cover my wife after her post-employment insurance plan expired. The ACA required us to purchase it under the “individual mandate” provision. We sought counsel with our insurance agent, who shopped around for a provider who could cover us. She found it and then we applied online — through healthcare.gov — for the subsidy; we got it approved and my wife was able to be covered by health insurance under the ACA.

That policy expired the day she became eligible for Medicare.

But the point here is that if Trump decides to end the ACA subsidy, he is going to deprive millions of Americans — just like my wife and me — of an opportunity to purchase health insurance.

This is how Trump is proposing to let the ACA “implode”?

At what cost, Mr. President?

So help me, Donald Trump Sr. disgusts me to my core.

It’s his fault, no … it’s his fault, no …

I don’t know whether to laugh, curse or slap my forehead over what I perceive is transpiring in Washington over the development of this so-called “replacement” of the Affordable Care Act.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and his troops want to call it Trumpcare; the president’s allies want to label it Ryancare.

No one wants to touch the American Health Care Act with a hot poker.

The Congressional Budget Office has given the AHCA a bad “score.” Donald Trump’s budget director says the CBO’s numbers are faulty, that 24 million Americans really and truly won’t lose their insurance if the AHCA becomes law.

Meanwhile, Speaker Ryan is having to fend off the TEA Party wing of his Republican congressional caucus, because they hate the AHCA almost as much as they hate the ACA, which they say was forced down their throats in 2010 by President Obama and those rascally congressional Democrats.

Trumpcare or Ryancare? How about Tryancare?

It doesn’t matter what you call it. The GOP had seven bloody years to come up with an alternative to the ACA. The Republicans were too damn busy trashing the initial health care overhaul and its author — Barack Obama — that they didn’t give nearly enough thought to how they would actually replace it.

Now they have something that no one on their side seems to favor.

I’ll give Republicans credit, though, at least for their “diversity” of thought on this issue. Some of ’em like the AHCA, some of ’em hate it. Isn’t there some middle ground to be discovered here?

I think I know what I want to do. I’ll say a few curse words … under my breath, of course.

Polls get in the GOP’s way regarding the ACA

Darn those pesky public opinion polls anyway.

The Pew Research Center, one of the more reliable polling organizations out there, has delivered another gut punch to congressional Republicans who are getting a snoot full already from constituents about the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA — which I now will no longer refer to as “Obamacare” — is more popular than ever with Americans.

Pew says 54 percent of Americans approve of the ACA, with 43 percent opposing it.

Republicans — and that includes the president of the United States — keep saying they’ll have a replacement plan ready to go once they repeal the ACA.

Really? Who’s seen it? I haven’t. Have you?

The GOP has eight years to craft their own version of affordable health care for Americans. Instead, they have come up empty, preferring to target the author of the ACA, former President Barack H. Obama. They detest him so much they cannot bring themselves even to refer to the ACA by its legal name, instead using the president’s last name to talk disparagingly about the plan.

Twenty million Americans have health care today who didn’t have it before the ACA was enacted in 2010. Is it perfect? Of course not. The federal government is incapable of crafting perfect legislation and then creating a perfect law.

It might need some tinkering around the edges.

Indeed, former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner — who sued the president over repeal of the ACA — this week has predicted that repeal of the act won’t happen. Congress will work to refine it, make it better, make it more “affordable” for Americans.

Oh wait! Didn’t Congress do something like this before, such as when it enacted Medicare and Social Security?

My advice to Congress is simple: Pay attention to what Americans are telling  you.

Now, those are ‘town hall meetings’

Town hall meetings usually are love fests, at least that’s what transpires when state legislators convene them in the Texas Panhandle.

State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, quite often stages these sessions in communities throughout his sprawling West Texas district. As near as I can tell, they are civil, usually friendly and constituents spend a good bit of energy telling Seliger how much they appreciate his service.

Well, town hall meetings in many congressional districts have turned into something quite different in recent days. They have produced shouting matches between members of Congress and their constituents.

At issue? The Affordable Care Act.

Constituents are showing up in droves to tell their congresspeople to leave the ACA alone. Or, if they’re going to repeal it, they’d damn well better have something to replace it … as in immediately, if not sooner!

U.S. Rep. Gus Billirakis, R-Fla., got a snootful from his constituents, who told him they’d better not mess with “Obamacare.” He’s not alone. Someone uttered the term “death panel” during a town hall event and promptly got booed and shouted down.

I haven’t heard about any such encounters in my congressional district, which would be the 13th, covering the Texas Panhandle. Our member of Congress is a fellow named Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, a rancher and a self-proclaimed “recovering lawyer.” He has served in the House for 22 years, making him one of the big dogs of Capitol Hill.

Thornberry hasn’t said much in public — above a whisper — about how he would replace the ACA.

Town hall meetings, as I have long understood them, were meant for constituents to speak their minds freely, telling their elected representatives what they think about issues of the day and how their representatives are handling them. The bad comes with the good. Town hall meetings aren’t usually intended to be amen choruses.

Thus, the real deal has broken out in congressional districts across the land.

It’s beginning to sound as though Congress has just discovered a so-called new “third rail.” It used to be that you didn’t mess with Social Security. These days, with 20 million Americans insured through a new government-sponsored insurance program, the third rail might have switched.

Now it’s the Affordable Care Act … maybe.

House prepares to burn Obamacare to the ground

I told you I would say something good about Donald J. Trump when the opportunity presents itself.

It just has.

The president-elect has admonished Republican members of Congress about whether they should repeal the Affordable Care Act without having a replacement law ready to go.


According to Reuters: “The president-elect, who takes office on Jan. 20, pressed lawmakers this week to repeal and replace it ‘essentially simultaneously.'”

Yes, Trump has applauded House members’ swift action to repeal the ACA. He’s also been mindful of the consequences of peeling away health insurance for 20 million Americans who have purchased coverage under the ACA.

It’s not as if congressional Republicans haven’t had time to cobble together a replacement plan. For six years, since the ACA was approved, the GOP has been harping and carping about the need to replace it — with something! House Republicans filed a lawsuit to repeal the ACA. They wrung their hands and griped out loud continually about an insurance law that was patterned — interestingly enough — after a Massachusetts law endorsed and pushed by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

House repeal doesn’t spell the end of the ACA. The repeal effort still has to jump through the Senate hoops, too.

However, the president-elect’s insistence that Congress have a replacement plan ready to go “simultaneously” is the more reasonable and humane approach.

Bernie channels Fritz Mondale


U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders made a pledge last night at the CNN-sponsored Democratic Presidential Candidate Town Hall Forum.

The self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” said he will “raise taxes” to pay for his universal health insurance plan if he’s elected president of the United States.

Interesting, you know?

Here’s why.

The last national politician I can remember who made such a promise was the 1984 Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale.

He stood before the party convention, accepted his party’s nomination and then said that President Ronald Reagan (against whom he ran that year) also will raise taxes. “He won’t tell you; I just did.”

I recall liking Mondale’s honesty at the time. It struck me that it was a bold statement to make.

But how well did it play with American voters that fall?

Not well . . . at all.

The president pulled in 59 percent of the popular vote; he beat Mondale by about 17 million ballots; President Reagan won 525 electoral votes; what’s more, he came within about 2,000 votes of winning all 50 states, losing only Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.

Promising to raise taxes never is a good idea, Sen. Sanders.


ACA adds another insurance client


The number of Americans insured by the Affordable Care Act grew by one today, I am happy to announce.

I also am happy to disclose that the enrollment process went quite smoothly.

You’ve heard of the ACA, I’m sure. It’s the federal health insurance program also known as Obamacare. It is President Obama’s signature piece of domestic legislation. His critics like calling it Obamacare, adding the appropriate derisive inflection in their voices at times whenever they want to make some kind of critical point about it.

Yes, it got off to that rocky start a couple of years ago. The healthcare.gov website broke down right out of the chute. Then the government computer geeks went to work to fix it. They did.

They rolled it out a second time it and then millions of Americans got signed up.

Oh, but congressional Republicans are still angry about the ACA. They’re trying to sue the president to get it tossed out. Indeed, a federal judge recently ruled that the GOP has legal standing to actually file suit.

Never mind that the insurance is working. Or that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance if the law gets tossed out.

Oh, but hey. It’s only us out here.

Well, today my wife got enrolled. Her previous health insurer is getting out of the health insurance business at the end of the year. So, with a good bit of help from our trusted insurance broker — with whom we’ve done business for as long as we’ve lived in Amarillo — we got my much better half signed up with a new insurance carrier.

And you know what? It’s going to cost us less than my wife’s previous policy did.

On that note, I want to offer a word of thanks to the president of the United States for pushing through the legislation that enables us to purchase health insurance at a price we can afford.

What if Obamacare gets stricken?

You’ve heard it said that one should be careful about they wish for, that they just might get it.

Congressional Republicans have been wishing for an end to the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Supreme Court might grant them their wish. Then again, the court might uphold the ACA.

But if the court strikes down the subsidies set aside in the law and deprives an estimated 6.5 million Americans their health insurance, who do you suppose is going to feel the heat the most? I’m guessing it’ll be Republicans who will have to come up with a plan of their own to restore the lost health insurance that so many millions of Americans have been able to obtain under Obamacare.


The Hill reports that a court victory might be the GOP’s worst nightmare.

And get this, according to The Hill: “The politics of the King vs. Burwell case are extremely treacherous and tricky for Republicans because if the subsidies are thrown out by the court, Republicans are in the position of having to create a fix that would be seen as a problem by their most conservative supporters,” said John Ullyot, a GOP strategist and former senior Senate aide.”

So, key Republicans are going to be whipsawed. Their base doesn’t particularly like federally mandated anything, let alone health insurance. They’ll fight with GOP leaders who want to repair the ACA. Meanwhile, those 6.5 million Americans will see their health insurance evaporate. Many of them live in states that will become key battleground states for senators seeking re-election.

The court will hand its ruling down any day now. President Obama has criticized the court for even agreeing to hear this case; he believes the case doesn’t even merit a court decision, that the law is ironclad, given that the court already has upheld it once already prior to the 2012 presidential election.

Whatever the court decides — and I’m far from willing to concede that it’ll strip out the ACA subsidies — at least one side of the aisle is going to go ape.

Heck, if the court rules in favor of Republicans, we might see both sides of the aisle lapse into catatonic states.





ACA is working, if uninsured rate is an indicator

One way to measure the success of the Affordable Care Act comes from a new survey by the Gallup organization.

The number of uninsured Americans has declined to 11.9 percent.


That’s down from 18 percent in the first quarter of 2013, when the ACA took full effect.

I’ll be the first — OK, maybe not the first — to concede that the ACA rollout went badly, with all the hiccups and meltdowns associated with healthcare.gov.

But the whole premise of the Affordable Care Act was to provide health insurance to Americans who didn’t have it and who — without insurance — faced the prospect of losing all their possessions if they were stricken with a catastrophic illness. Indeed, the very definition of “catastrophic” should be enough to frighten every uninsured American.

The decline in the uninsured was felt most dramatically among lower-income Americans, according to the Gallup survey. Those individuals, too, were among President Obama’s target demographic.

So, let’s take a deep breath before we start piling on the ACA, attaching ridiculous pejorative descriptions to it.

The results keep coming in: The Affordable Care Act is doing its job.