Will GOP repeal Obamacare and run?
In a statement reminiscent of the Vietnam War explanation that “we had to destroy the village in order to save it,” Rep. Scott Tipton assured his constituents that “it is clearer than ever that fixing our nation’s health care system will require a full repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.”
If Republicans thought such ideas would resonate with their constituents back home, they must have been shocked at the reception Rep Mike Coffman got when he met with his regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with constituents at the Aurora Public Library.
In a scene that may soon be repeated in other jurisdictions, more than 100 people showed up at the library. Video shot by Denver Channel 9 shows Coffman hustled out the back of the building and into an area cordoned off by yellow police crime scene tape. Quickly rushed into a waiting car, Coffman was whisked away with a police escort.
To the casual observer, it might have looked like the crowd had somehow threatened Coffman, forcing him to flee for his safety.
There is, however, no suggestion that the crowd was aggressive toward Coffman, nor did they threaten him. Instead they are reported to have broken into a chorus of “This land is your land.”
If Republicans really believed that Coloradans would readily walk away from Obamacare in return for vague promises of something better, episodes like the one in Aurora tell a different story. Coloradans, like their counterparts throughout the country, are made very insecure by the idea of repealing the ACA without a replacement plan.
Their insecurity is not without reason. While many Democrats would agree that the ACA is a work in progress that could benefit from some further revision, most Republicans insist the only answer is to repeal the ACA entirely and replace it with a plan of their own.
Inconveniently for the Republicans in Congress, they have not offered any alternative plan that would offer equivalent coverage to the ACA at less cost. In fact, they have offered no plan at all.
The loudest Republican voice of all is President Donald Trump. He has been on both sides of the issue, sometimes advocating free market solutions to health care issues, at other times seeming to favor something close to universal coverage with government support.
As Trump told the Washington Post in an interview, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”
Trump has repeatedly announced that he is working on his own plan that would offer “insurance for everybody,” with much lower deductibles.
Not only would everyone be covered by President Donald’s plan, people covered, he promised, “can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”
“It’s not going to be their plan,” Trump said, referring to people covered under the present law. “It’ll be another plan. But they’ll be beautifully covered. I don’t want single-payer. What I do want to do is to be able to take care of people,” he said last week.
As Jason Easley of Politicusa points out, “Trump is promising universal coverage that people don’t have to pay extra to get, but it isn’t single payer. This is the exact opposite of what Republicans in Congress are planning to do.”
When congressional Republicans talk about access to health care, their key term is not “health” but “access.” Their goal is not to ensure that as many Americans as possible have insurance, but to make health care available to all those willing and able to purchase it in a competitive market.
“Donald Trump’s mouth has written a check that Republicans in Congress can’t cash,” writes Easley. “Republicans have no intention of maintaining insurance for all of the ACA plan holders. In fact, privately, Republicans admit that millions of people are going to lose their coverage under the replacement.”
If President Trump wants to avoid a potential backlash from people bumped from ACA coverage, he needs to put pressure on our Republican Congress to head off the impending health insurance crisis before it spirals out of control.