It is as if U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and some of his mates in the U.S. House of Representatives missed the 2012 presidential election. For now, after a long and painful battle in Congress, after years of futile and wasteful attempts to turn back President Obamas revolutionary and much-needed health care reform plan, Brady says he and other Republicans, having given up on repealing the entire reform package, now will try to pick it apart by taking on parts of the plan one at a time.
This is not just an affront to the president. Republicans in the House, driven by the right-wing extremes in their caucus, take glee in bashing the president on any and all issues and in standing against every policy action that comes from the White House. But in this case, Brady and others are simply ignoring the outcome of the presidential election in November. That election, at least in part, was in effect a public referendum on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act adopted by a majority of the Congress in 2010.
The nominee Republicans would like to forget, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, found a way in every speech on the campaign trail to repeat one of his signature positions: On his very first day as president, he said, he would repeal Obamacare.
Has it occurred to Brady that the publics repudiation of Romney might also have been a rejection of his platform? That the public might have been affirming what Obama has tried to do to improve health care, to make it more affordable and to ensure that the vast, vast majority of Americans are covered by insurance?
Perhaps Brady and the others do know that, which makes their petty, partisan flirtation with repealing parts of the health care reform package all the more despicable. Could it be that its all about revenge?
The reforms Obama pushed already have expanded coverage to sick children who couldnt get insurance prior to reform, for example, and to young people with part-time jobs or without employment who can be kept on their parents insurance until they are 26 years old. And the act will, by 2014, make it possible for most Americans to obtain health insurance through exchanges set up in their states. That should lower costs for everyone, though health insurance companies have been raising rates as much as they can, perhaps in anticipation of reform.
But the bottom line is, for those who have no insurance and face bankruptcy from unexpected health care expenses or for those who have pre-existing conditions and are paying exorbitant rates for coverage, health insurance reform is a blessing.
Yet Republicans continue to stand up for changing or rejecting parts of the law in order to protect the profit-makers in Americas deeply flawed health care system. It is a system in which, as documented in recent News & Observer reports, hospitals charge as much as they can for drugs, buy up doctors practices ( increasing their profitability while reducing patient choice) and leave patients essentially helpless when the bills come due.
House Speaker John Boehner is said to be considering letting the House (meaning Republicans) vote for repealing Obamacare. It would be a symbolic act, of course, because it would not go through the Democrat-led Senate, and Obama would veto it if it did.
The real symbolism, however, would speak to the refusal of House Republicans to accept the will of the people in favor of their petulant desire to take a swipe at a president whose judgment on health care was confirmed at the polls.