MA Voices Hardly Heard as GOP Focuses on 'Freeing' Us from ACA 'Pain'

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The state’s largest union held an event this past Thursday at Boston’s Old South Church to call attention to the “the damage the Republican Affordable Care Act replacement bill will inflict in Massachusetts.”

The executive vice president of that union, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Tyrek D. Lee, Sr., told a large gathering of his members and assorted health care advocates, “This bill is a tax break for the richest and will shift costs to low- and middle-income people in the state and across the nation.”
According to a physician-speaker at the event, James S. Gessner, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, there is “no federal policy that has had as positive an impact on my patients” as the Affordable Care Act. 

Thanks to the ACA, Dr. Gessner said, “more families here in the Commonwealth have been able to acquire health insurance, and more patients have finally had peace of mind about their ability to get the medical care that they need.  This bill to replace the ACA will ensure that patients fall through the cracks – patients who are among the most vulnerable.”
The Old South Church rally was, in part, an angry, mournful reaction to what had gone on earlier that day in Washington, where two key House committees voted to approve the Republicans’ first formal proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.

GOP leaders said they were “fulfilling a political promise to uproot a law that had done untold damage,” the New York Times reported that day.
“This bill guts Obamacare and starts putting patients back in charge of their health care, without government bureaucrats telling them what they can or cannot buy,” boasted Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Kevin Brady of Texas, the House Ways & Means chair, called the committee votes an “historic step, an important step, in the repeal of Obamacare and the freeing of millions of Americans, patients and local businesses from that pain.”
That’s an interesting formulation for a measure with the potential to take health coverage away from 24 million Americans:  “Here ,folks, let us stop the pain you’re suffering on account of that insurance that pays for your health care and protects you from a medically related bankruptcy.”

Do you ever wonder how many members of the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican vanguard in the long war against Obamacare, have refused the five-star, taxpayer-provided Congressional health plan?
It was a big mistake for President Obama and Democrat leaders in the Congress to enact the ACA without bipartisan support.

Eight years later, it will be an even bigger mistake for President Trump and Republican leaders in the Congress to kill, unilaterally, the ACA and replace it with some mangier, weaker program.
A one-party solution eight years ago allowed the opposition party endlessly to portray as a bad thing something that everyone agreed hundreds of years ago is a good thing, insurance.

I have no inkling if there’s a positive result to be had from the political battle over the dismantling of Obama’s greatest domestic achievement.
If there is, I suspect it will come from the inability of Senate Republicans to agree on an Obamacare replacement. 

At that point, with the Congress deadlocked, sane Democrats may join forces with sane Republicans. 
The sane collective, I hope, will then begin talking about what everyone in Washington should have been talking about during the years they were talking about freedom and the evils of big guvmint:

How does the world leader in higher education, medicine, science and technology, the USA, create a smart insurance system that enables every citizen to secure health coverage?


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