Archive for the ‘health care’ Category
By John Feehery
He who has the pen makes the rules.
That is especially true when it comes to Congress.
Obamacare was controversial when the President signed it into law.
Because of the Obamacare, Republicans were able to seize back control of House with the largest midterm victory since the 1930′s.
The law was controversial because it will sharply shape one of the largest and fastest-growing segment of the economy, health care.
One of the primary features of this controversial law was the creation of health care exchanges. These exchanges are government-supported and government-mandated health care insurance markets.
Nobody is really sure how they will work. And the government has had a whale of a time actually setting them up. Some state governments have cooperated with the Obama White House while other state governments have washed their hands of the entire concept.
These health care exchanges might be a complete disaster. Max Baucus called them a “train wreck.”
Senator Chuck Grassley voted against the entire law (as did every Republican), but one provision he successfully added to it was the concept that Members of Congress and their staff would be forced to join the exchanges.
That’s good politics and it makes sense. If the exchanges don’t work, Congress would have a front seat in seeing why they didn’t work and they could fix them. Congress gets a lot of grief from their constituents because they tend to do a pretty good job of making sure their benefits are generous.
Representatives get a good pension and they get Cadillac health care benefits. Or at least they did get Cadillac health care benefits up until the Grassley provision made it into the final law.
The interesting thing about that provision is that it was drafted by Committee staff. And guess who gets an exemption from having to enter an Obamacare health care exchange? Why, it is committee staffers, of course.
So, if you are a normal Congressional staff member or if you are a Member of Congress, you will be forced to join an exchange at the end of this year (or whenever these exchanges actually get off the ground). If you are a committee staff member, you can keep the health care that you currently have.
Congressional Democrats (and some Republicans I bet) want to change that. They don’t want to take the exemption away from Committee Staff. That would be too easy. No, they want the same exemption as the Committee Staff get.
I have a better idea. Why don’t we exempt the entire country from the train wreck health care exchanges that aren’t even set up yet?
How would we do that? How about by repealing the whole dumb law? That would be my solution.
By John Feehery
Originally Published in The Hill.
The healthcare train currently chugging down the tracks is going to crash, and it is not going to be pretty.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate Finance Committee chairman who helped design the healthcare reform bill signed into law by President Obama three years ago, was the one who initially called it a “huge train wreck.”
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, characterized the law as “beyond comprehension.”
Kathleen Sebelius, the person in charge of implementing the law, admitted that it would raise premiums, which undermines the very purpose of it in the first place.
The question today is how the Republicans can mount a campaign to successfully repeal ObamaCare and, in doing so, help their collective political fortunes.
House Republicans have voted more than 30 times to repeal this law, and those efforts have gone nowhere. Conservative activists continually lambaste Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) for not shutting down the government in pursuit of repeal, a dubious and counterproductive strategy.
Attacking the team that agrees with your position is no way to achieve your objectives, but unfortunately that is state of the modern conservative movement.
Opponents of ObamaCare need three things to achieve their objectives: patience, persistence and nonpartisanship. Let me explain.
The president’s law was cleverly designed. It implemented all of the politically popular things first — doing away with pre-existing conditions, keeping older kids on their parents’ insurance, giving away free birth control pills — and put off all of the nasty stuff until 2014.
The hope was that by postponing the pain, the Democrats could make it more difficult for the law to be repealed.
But patience should be a virtue for opponents of the law, because when the American people don’t like something put into law by the Congress, they have the power to get rid of it, through their elected representatives.
What that requires is persistence. It might make little sense to the media for congressional Republicans to keep voting dozens of times to repeal ObamaCare, but at some point, it will become more difficult for Democrats to vote to protect this increasingly unpopular law. At some point, the dam will break and the Democrats will flood to join Republicans to repeal this terrible law.
ObamaCare is having an immediate impact on premiums. Republicans have to educate the American people on that connection. It would be worth an investment in political capital to make that case to the American people. We know that the Democrats will blame the insurance companies, because that is what Democrats always do.
ObamaCare is having an immediate impact on the scarcity of doctors. The truth is that by taking away all economic incentives to continue to work, many doctors are leaving the profession entirely. A scarcity of doctors means longer wait times, lower-quality care and a diminishment of services.
ObamaCare is having an immediate impact on jobs and the economy. Small businesses are not hiring because of this law. Increased taxes on all kind of medical devices are making it harder for those American manufacturers to hire new workers. And when the ObamaCare taxes hit younger workers who don’t want to pay for health insurance, that too will impact the economy.
Persistence is the key to winning these arguments — but how you frame those arguments is even more important. So I am going to suggest something that might be counterintuitive: Stop calling it ObamaCare.
It will be hard for Democrats to vote to repeal ObamaCare. It will be far easier for them to vote to repeal the Washington law that unnecessarily increases heathcare premiums, prematurely retires thousands of doctors who need some economic incentives to keep practicing medicine and stupidly raises taxes on American manufacturing companies and young workers who barely afford to pay back their college loans as it is.
It will be far easier for Democrats if they cast their vote to avoid the train wreck rather than casting the vote to repudiate their president.