“Once it gets going,” Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Mining, told the Sun, “you’ll never get rid of it.”
“It” in this instance being the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Republicans like Amodei, who earlier in their careers might have been expected to legislate with at least a modicum of sense, surrendered control of the GOP to the Tea Party without a fight. Now Amodei and his Nevada Republican colleagues in Congress, Rep. Joe Heck and Sen. Dean Heller, must obediently recite Tea Party drivel and pretend that the Affordable Care Act poses the greatest threat to liberty in the history of this or any other nation.
Obamacare must be wiped from the face of the earth. That’s what Republicans stand for. If Obamacare isn’t wiped from the earth, if, as Amodei put it, “once it gets going you’ll never get rid of it,” Republicans will spend the next several years and possibly a decade or three explaining why they were so bitterly opposed to expanding health care coverage for Americans.
Or as Obama himself said last week, “Once it’s working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare.”
The law has already started working, if not really well, then certainly fairly well. Nevadans have received rebates from insurers who spent too much on marketing and not enough on paying for health care. Thousands of young Nevadans have been allowed to stay covered under a parent’s insurance instead of being kicked off at age 21. A host of insurance reforms have reined in several denial-of-coverage and price-gouging abuses the industry had been inflicting on consumers.
Tuesday, uninsured Nevadans became eligible to enroll in subsidized health insurance plans – the centerpiece of the law – at Nevadahealthlink.com. Starting Jan. 1, they’ll have health insurance, and we’ll start to see in earnest whether Obamacare works “really well,” or just well, or in a manner diametrically opposed to the concept of well altogether.
It is the latter scenario – complete and utter failure – that Republicans hope for. Then and only then will their outraged resistance to providing affordable health care to their constituents be justified. Accordingly, every hitch in the ACA get-along – and there will be more than a few – will be deliberately, relentlessly exaggerated by Amodei, Heck and Heller.
Ignore their bluster and judge the law’s performance for yourself. If past performance indicates future results, the GOP’s tireless effort to demonize the law has sapped Republicans of sufficient mental energy to understand how it works or even what it is supposed to do.
Take Dean Heller (please). He’s been alleging lately that the ACA “exempts” members of Congress and their staffs from provisions “that Obamacare forces on everyday Americans.”
Heller’s knows all about “everyday Americans.” He spent his entire 2012 Senate campaign assiduously avoiding them. You can’t pull that off without knowing who and where they are.
Alas, the senator’s expertise ends there.
Obamacare doesn’t exempt Congress and congressional staffers. It places additional requirements on them.
Obamacare provides subsidies to lower the cost of premiums for people whose job doesn’t offer health insurance. If your employer already provides coverage, you keep it – except if you work for Congress.
Members of Congress and staffs are the only people in America who have been statutorily denied their existing employer-provided coverage under the law, because Heller’s Republican colleagues thought it was cute and clever that if Congress was going establish a “government takeover” of health care, then Congress should have to get its health care through the new “socialized medicine” program.
The federal government pays roughly 70 percent of the cost of employee health insurance premiums, which is on a par with what the private sector pays (if you’re fortunate enough to work somewhere with a health plan). Congressional employees will continue to receive that premium support so they can buy health insurance on the new exchanges – that’s what Heller is wrongly calling an “exemption.” In fact, congressional employees are getting the same deal as if a private employer decided to drop coverage, send employees to private insurance exchanges and continue to help pay for premiums (and a few private employers have decided to do just that).
If congressional staffers, including those unfortunate enough to be working for a cad like Heller, no longer received a health benefit from their employer, they would suddenly have to pay thousands of dollars more each year for health insurance.
Ever since 2010 when cries about the congressional “exemption” first surfaced, virtually every fact-checking organization in America has flatly declared it false. By perpetuating a roundly, soundly and repeatedly disproved allegation, as Heller did on the Senate floor just days ago, Heller is deliberately lying, or he just doesn’t know how Obamacare is administered and why it was established.
Like the Palin-led squealing about “death panels,” Heller’s preferred criticism about the ACA is a fabrication. But then, the same goes for the “government takeover” and “socialized medicine” tropes routinely trotted out by Tea Party-controlled Republicans.
If Obamacare is so horrible and unworkable, why do Republicans so frequently lie about the law? The truth would be more persuasive, no?
Um, no. The truth is that Republicans are terrified that Obamacare is going to work. And even a permanent backbencher like Amodei can see that if that happens, “you’ll never get rid of it.”
Hugh Jackson co-hosts The Agenda on KSNV Channel 3.