Every couple of days, it seems, we read that the Republicans in Congress, led by Janesville’s Rep. Paul Ryan, have concocted another bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.
They seem unable to get it done, mostly because either “conservatives” or “moderates” in the House of Representatives object to one or another of its provisions.
If you are wondering why there can’t be a Republican alternative to the ACA it’s because the ACA is the Republican alternative.
Its theoretical underpinnings come from the Heritage Society. Its ideological forerunner was the state health insurance program former presidential candidate Mitt Romney passed when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Barack Obama ran for president on the promise of enacting national health care legislation. Most Democrats thought that meant a single-payer health insurance program that resembled Medicare.
Obama had this strange idea that the idea of universal health insurance would be stronger if it had significant Republican by-in. As the bill weaved its way through Congress, it began to look more and more like a Republican bill.
Democrats were not happy, but they had been promising national health insurance at least since the days of Harry Truman and they went along with the new president.
Republicans, as we all know, didn’t. This was at a time when Republicans voted against their own legislation when they learned Obama was on their side.
But the legislation that passed was, in essence, a Republican proposal. It worked through private insurance. It demanded that everyone participate. It was – quaint as that idea may seem today – paid for.
There were really only two reasons why Republicans hated the Affordable Care Act. The first was that they hated anything Barack Obama liked. The second it that they knew it would help people, even Republicans. Once passed, it was going to be extremely hard to repeal.
Since its passage, “Repeal and Replace” has become the GOP mantra, except there is no way to “replace” its provisions without hurting people, even Republicans.
Ryan and his troops ought to stop the nonsense. They might, somehow, get legislation through the House, but voters will ram it down their throats if they do.
Instead, they should just do what they should have been doing all along. They should work with Democrats to determine flaws in the legislation and, then, fix it.
If they fixed it, they could take credit and relax. If they don’t, it is going to haunt them forever. They deserve to be haunted, but the American people don’t deserve to be left always wondering if their health insurance will go away tomorrow.
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