No end to Republican attempts to block Obamacare

September 19, 2013 

It has been 50 years since Gov. George Wallace of Alabama stood in the “schoolhouse door” to block admission of a black student to his state university. That was a disgraceful moment in American history. Wallace was going against the law, both legal and moral, and later was condemned by politicians of both parties.

And yet some Republicans are still standing in the schoolhouse door with regard to the federal Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by a U.S. Supreme Court majority. It is, just as desegregation laws were 50 years ago, the law of the land.

Yet Republicans go merrily along, bringing an entirely new meaning to the phrase “against the law.” U.S. House Republicans will vote today to gut Obamacare by defunding it, though they have no chance of getting that done, and their own party is sharply divided on the strategy.

On Oct. 1, health care exchanges, some run by the more enlightened states and others by the federal government, will begin marketing insurance options to people.

Chance for everyone

The reform plan offers opportunities for the uninsured to get insurance and for those with pre-existing conditions to buy it when they might have been denied before. Already, parts of Obamacare have been phased in, with ill children getting coverage, and the program will lower drug costs of seniors and provide opportunities for preventive care across the board. Health care reform is long overdue in a nation that is essentially alone in industrialized countries in not having affordable health care or insurance programs for all.

But from the first day when President Obama brought up the idea of reform, he has faced virulent opposition. Republicans in Congress have stood against him every step of the way, and governors and state lawmakers have followed, all this despite the obvious benefits of the Affordable Care Act to the poor and the middle class and the forecasts that, with most Americans covered by insurance, health care expenses for all may well decrease.

On Capitol Hill, House Republicans want to make that devil’s bargain: They’ll agree not to shut down the federal government over budget issues if the president will allow them to “defund” the ACA. Obama will not agree..

Obstructionism

Around the country, states led by Republicans are trying to impede the work of “navigators” for health care exchanges, people who will help the uninsured in particular sign up for coverage. The navigators, usually members of community groups being paid through a federal grant, face roadblocks from legislation banning them from certain public buildings to requirements that they have certifications beyond those required by the federal government. Some states even prevent the navigators, who are not political, from advising people on health coverage.

Are lawmakers up to these shenanigans bought and paid for by insurance companies or drug companies, who long fought health care reform? It doesn’t seem so. Rather, they are united in their hatred for a president who has defeatedtheir last two presidential candidates. They don’t want anything to do with laws supported by Barack Obama, a man who is a lightning rod for tea partyers and right-wingers and sore losers.

North Carolina Republicans are so wrapped up in resentment that they hurt their own residents by passing up the opportunity for the state to run its own health insurance marketplace with a $74 million federal grant. Instead, the federal government will run it.

Republicans and Democrats, too, are perfectly within their rights not to like the new health care law, but to try to thwart it by making things uncomfortable for federal representatives who are trying to help people is politics as its lowest form.

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