“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
In 2008, health care reform was one of the most hotly debated issues in the U.S. presidential campaign, in the primaries and the general election. Barack Obama said if he was elected, fixing health care would be one of his top four priorities.
On Nov. 6, 2008, Obama was elected with 9.5 million more popular votes and 192 more electoral votes than John McCain. On March 5, 2009, President Obama began the health care reform process, basing reform on a plan first formulated in 1992 by the conservative Heritage Foundation, later implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.
In June 2009, Congress began working on health care reform bills. In Aug. 2009, Congressional town halls erupted with well-orchestrated protests against the idea of reform, with a lot of misinformation spread by opponents. Congress kept working on their bills.
On Dec. 24, 2009, the Senate passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590). On Jan. 5, 2010, the House amended this bill by reconciliation, calling it the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. On March 23, 2010, Obama signed the ACA into law; on March 30, he signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Health care reform was now law.
In 2011, a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report estimated that the ACA would reduce the national budget deficit by over $200 billion from 2012-2021, as well as strengthening Medicare. This still wasn’t good enough for opponents, who challenged the law in court. On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the ACA constitutional.
That decision did not silence critics. During the 2012 presidential campaign, the ACA (Obamacare) was a major issue; opponents had plenty of opportunity to make their objections clear. On Nov. 6, 2012, Obama won with 5 million more popular votes and 126 more electoral votes than Romney.
In the Congressional races, Democrats retained control of the Senate. In the House elections, Democratic candidates actually received 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, but thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans maintained a majority of House seats, 234 to 201. In North Carolina, for example, House Democrats received 51 percent of the vote, but won just four seats to the Republicans’ nine seats. The overall popular vote showed clearly that the American public favored Democratic policies, including Obamacare. Of the 51 percent of Americans who supposedly disapprove of Obamacare, half of those want it to go further, not be repealed. Americans have made their feelings clear.
In spite of all this, Congressional Republicans are determined to flout the law and bring the country to its knees if they don’t get their way. House Republicans have taken 40 votes to repeal parts or all of Obamacare. These votes have cost an estimated $70 million, $1.75 million for each repeal vote. House Republicans know repeal will never pass the Senate or get signed by Obama. They know they are wasting taxpayer money hand over fist.
Why would people who claim to be fiscally responsible squander millions of tax dollars? They aren’t trying to create jobs, or fix infrastructure or education, or deal with any of the major issues facing our country. As the president said, they don’t even pretend to have a replacement for Obamacare. All they care about is having tantrums and getting their way.
Republicans claim Obamacare has failed. As of May 16, 2013, six million young adults have insurance because they are now allowed to stay on their parents’ plan. I met one such young adult who works here in Fallon, and she was very grateful to have insurance. In 2011 and 2012, the Medical Loss Ratio part of ACA had saved $3.3 billion for consumers who bought their own insurance. This was due to reduced premiums and rebates from insurance companies. As of July 2013, average monthly premiums offered on the exchanges are lower than expected. Obamacare has not been fully implemented, and it’s already saving lives and money.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and others say they will shut down the government if Obamacare gets funded. They don’t care that this is settled law. They don’t even care that shutting down the government won’t defund Obamacare, since the spending for this program is mandatory. Military troops won’t get paid, but Cruz and his buddies don’t care. They will cause suffering for millions of people so they can claim to be upholding conservative principles. Forty votes to repeal, $70 million wasted. Insanity indeed.
Jeanette Strong’s column appears every other Wednesday.