Is there a more fitting metaphor for the plight of our current political climate than Republicans pushing a vote to take away healthcare from millions of Americans, while they benefit from the best government-funded healthcare available?
After flying back to Washington D.C. from having brain surgery, Senator John McCain delivered a passionate speech from the floor of the senate, blasting the secretive process in which the repeal and replace GOP healthcare bill had been drafted and calling for a return to order and bipartisanship in Congress.
Although initially McCain seemed to not heed his own advice by voting in favor of a motion to proceed with the repeal, putting the well-being of millions of Americans at risk, he ultimately did the right thing, voting no alongside Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and dooming the proposal.
To put into perspective just how bad the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have been for most Americans, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis has said that the GOP healthcare proposal would have led to 22 million fewer people without insurance while greatly raising premiums on older, low-income Americans. Republicans were so eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act that they attempted to negotiate what they call a “skinny repeal”, a proposal which the CBO estimated would lead to 15 million people without health coverage and a rise of 20 percent on premiums, leading to the death spiral of Obamacare that Trump threatens when he says he will let “Obamacare fail.”
Only 16 percent of Americans approve the GOP-led healthcare repeal of the ACA, but it is not only the American people who overwhelmingly oppose this irresponsible attack on working class families. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s most influential trade group, sent to Congress a scathing letter warning Republican lawmakers that their proposal would have caused havoc on health insurance markets.
The skinny repeal was nothing more than an attempt by Republicans to sabotage the Affordable Care Act by getting rid of its individual mandate, which is the penalty for people who refuse to get health insurance. Without an incentive for healthy people to sign up for coverage, costs for patients with pre-existing conditions and serious medical conditions would overwhelm the market, causing insurers to raise premiums and further discouraging healthy people from enrolling. This would cause the death spiral of the ACA that Trump often talks about.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association issued a similar letter rebuking the GOP repeal plan by saying: “a system that allows people to purchase coverage only when they need it drives up costs for everyone.”
What the Republicans are doing in Congress is truly reprehensible. They attempted to ram through Congress an irresponsible healthcare repeal through a secretive and undemocratic process.
The Republican Party spent seven years under Mitch McConnell’s leadership doing nothing but obstructing and poisoning American politics, voting dozens of times to repeal the ACA and ultimately giving us the deplorable Presidency of Donald Trump. When given the genuine opportunity to go through with the repeal, Republican senators flinched when faced with the political pressures of leaving millions of people uninsured.
It is fortunate that three Republican senators voted their conscience and went against the insanity of their own party to save healthcare for millions of Americans, but it is unfortunate that most of their colleagues fail to see the irony in voting to take away that healthcare while enjoying taxpayer-funded government healthcare.
Thomas Kennedy is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change Action and the Deputy Political Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition Votes.