NC panel on ACA heard exactly what foes wanted it to hear

March 19, 2014 

Well, you have to give them this: Republicans who set up a study committee in the North Carolina legislature to review the Affordable Care Act got exactly what they wanted this week.

When the committee met, the star speaker was a Duke University health policy scholar who has previously called President Obama a fascist. Guess where that speaker, Chris Conover, came down on the ACA? He believes it is a disaster and will wipe out jobs and turn others into part-time positions.

The committee’s meeting was designed to showcase one side and one side only in the health care debate. Republicans have at every turn tried to make it harder for people in North Carolina to access the ACA’s benefits. They even turned down an expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled, although the federal government would have paid the cost.

Even so, about 200,000 people in North Carolina have signed up for health insurance, many of them for the first time, through the ACA’s insurance exchanges. And nationally, the predictions of an exploding federal deficit and various catastrophes related to the ACA have not come to pass.

Insurance companies, including the state’s largest in Blue Cross and Blue Shield, have raised premiums because they now have to cover more people with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t find insurance before the ACA. But in time, if younger and healthier people follow the law and get insurance, rates across the board should stabilize or come down.

That’s a forecast Republicans don’t like. Their burning political opposition to all things associated with President Obama long ago took away their perspective and their ability to discuss policies such as the ACA – whose constitutionality the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld – in a fair and rational way.

The result is ridiculous hearings such as the one this week, skewed toward one side, which insult the intelligence of constituents who would be perfectly fine with a review of health care. If Republicans think their argument against reform is so strong, why do they seem so reluctant to hear their opponents?

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