Republican senators are continuing to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act as if the nation’s health care system was on the brink of destruction and their constituents were standing outside the congressional office buildings in the millions. Their efforts are a waste of time, a distraction, and an indulgence of their apparent obsession with destroying a noble legacy of the administration of President Barack Obama.
The Affordable Care Act made it possible for millions, 22 million or so, of Americans to get affordable health insurance. But President Trump rallied his conservative, angry base throughout his presidential campaign by painting “Obamacare” as some sort of evil conspiracy. Even some people who were using the ACA criticized Obamacare, not realizing the ACA was Obamacare.
But Trump and Republicans failed to come up with a viable plan to repeal and replace the ACA, and some seemed to lose their enthusiasm for the misguided crusade after their efforts fell short. Even President Trump, these days more interested in a tax code overhaul, doesn’t seem as enthusiastic as once he was.
Why, then, are some Republican senators now pushing yet another repeal-and-replace maneuver, this one featuring block grants for states to help individuals get health insurance, rather than the mandates and subsidies in Obamacare? It’s a foolish and shortsighted plan, laced with rhetoric about how the “states know better” how to handle such programs.
In fact, such a plan would result in some less-affluent states being underfunded, and their citizens would be left out in the cold. The quality of help and the quality of care would vary widely from state to state. America is the United States, not a confederation of some sort where states are left to their own devices for some services.
Medicare is a national program. Social Security is a national program. The common defense is a national priority.
This plan seems little more than one more desperate attempt on the part of Republicans to do away with Obamacare, which they despise for its success, and that its success is attributed to the 44th president of the United States, who twice whipped Republican opponents for the White House. The depth of Republican resentment of Obama’s successes cannot be overestimated.
The ACA does need fine-tuning, and Republicans could be participants in its success rather than politically motivated opponents who are coming across to the American people as whiners and naysayers.
Ah, yes, the people. Polls have shown repeatedly that the ACA now has popular support. So the political advantage Republicans once enjoyed in opposing it doesn’t even exist anymore – except in the most far-right reaches of the Republican Party.
Republicans should quit tilting at the Obamacare windmill, focus on repairing the ACA, and move on to other national concerns. They weren’t elected to engage in a lot of thumb-twiddling punctuated by occasional angry bursts of partisanship.