The chickens have come home to roost for the Obamacare-hating Republicans. Since 2010 they have run on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They voted scores of times to do so always comfortable in the knowledge that Obama himself would veto any such bill and they would not have to come up with a replacement. That was a comfortable place for them, but now rather than setting the fire, they are sitting on it.
For all those years they campaigned on the horrors of Obamacare, on what a “disaster” it was and how it wasn’t working. Now they have the power to repeal but notice the clever wording, “Repeal and Replace rather than Improve. Replace is a slick word with no meat. You could replace Obama Care by handing out First Aid kits. Why don’t they ever say “Improve.”Improving Obamacare is a horse of a different color. Improving means you provide coverage that actually allows people to have their ills tended to and paid for at a minimum cost to them no matter what is wrong with them or for how long. Don’t you wonder why after seven years of complaining, the Republicans don’t have a health care plan packaged and ready to go? What the hell have they been doing?
The Republican majority in the congress now finds themselves in the unenviable position of having to come up with a better bill. They will try to sell the public an inferior product like health care vouchers or some such thing, but if you have a catastrophic illness the voucher likely won’t amount to enough to pay for your care. Don’t buy that solution folks, it’s a bad one.
Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell know that whatever they pass they will own and they also know whatever they come up with will be a campaign issue. So the tables will be totally turned. Now I’m not one to offer the opposition good ideas on how to solve their problems, but healthcare should not be a partisan issue. It is about my family and yours and all the other families being able to enjoy good medical care at minimum out-of-pocket-costs.
I’m sure right now there are officials sitting with staff trying to draft a new plan. Here’s where I come in. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. There is already a plan in existence and it works very well. It’s called Medicare. A few tweaks here and there and it will work for everyone. Yes, I know what it costs and I know all the arguments against it. But they can all be overcome. You can spend a lot less time and money fixing Medicare than you will by inventing an entirely new program. All you have to do is get the President Elect to tell his CEO buddies who run major corporations, hospitals, clinics and insurance companies to quit fraudulently charging Medicare. If they did that the cost would come down significantly.
You doubt my word? the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare, estimates that last year some $60 billion of American taxpayer money, or more than 10 percent of Medicare’s total budget, was lost to fraud, waste, abuse and improper payments. The biggest Medicare Fraud case of all time was committed by a hospital holding company Columbia HCA. They wound up paying $1.7 billion in fines. The scam took place during the period in which Rick Scott was the CEO. He said he knew nothing about it, left the company and is now in his second term as Governor of Florida. We have to stop rewarding crooks by sending them to important public offices (see link below)
Could Medicare be better managed? Of course. Could they do a better job internally of keeping costs down? Absolutely, but are they to blame for the lack of ethical practices among some physicians, clinics, hospitals and others? Absolutely not. Here are a couple fraud examples from an investigative report done by ABC news.
- A Senate investigation into Medicare fraud found $6 million in payments to a “business” whose fake address would have been smack in the middle of the Miami Airport.
- ABC News went to one of the locations listed in the CMS report that was on Chicago’s Southside next to a porn shop, with no doctor’s office evident, where Medicare sent nearly $600,000 using an ineligible mailbox shop location as a billing address.
If you’d like more examples of Medicare Fraud here are a few links.
So, the answer for the Republicans is clear. They have to repeal Obamacare, they’ve been campaigning on it for 7 years so they can’t keep it. Their dilemma is, what to do because unless the plan they offer is better than Obamacare they are in for the roughest period in the history of their party. You can’t take 25 million people off of one insurance plan, give them something inferior and expect to walk away unscathed. If the GOP wants to score a political victory then Medicare may be the answer. Of course Trump may have something to say about that.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth.