Wineke: Someone has to pay for health insurance

Until a couple of days ago, the big issue in health insurance coverage was the proposal from several Democratic presidential candidates that the nation extend its Medicare program to cover anyone who needs insurance.

Then, President Donald Trump ordered his administration to back efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which currently assists 21 million Americans in obtaining health insurance, mandates coverage for those with preexisting conditions, helps old people with drug expenses and does much, much more.

The president says Republicans will replace the ACA, better known as Obamacare, with a much better program. He is particularly emphatic in promising the new program will cover preexisting conditions.
What he and his Republican acolytes don’t explain is how they plan to do that.

The dirty little secret about health insurance is that it is very expensive and that the people who are most likely to need insurance are those who make it expensive.

You can’t just pass a law telling insurance companies that they must provide coverage for people who are very likely to get sick and also insist that the insurance companies don’t raise their rates to unsupportable levels.

At least, I don’t think you can do that and still have insurance companies.

The problem President Barack Obama had in crafting the Affordable Care Act a decade ago is that the coverage he wanted to provide cost too much money.

So, Obamacare ended up with a hodgepodge of overt and hidden taxes and a hodgepodge of services put together to convince individual members of Congress to vote for the bill.

The act was essentially governed by Republican, not Democratic, ideas. It was based on a law former Gov. Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts and on concepts provided by the American Heritage Association. Even so, no Republicans voted for it.

They kept saying they had a better idea, but they didn’t have a better idea. They didn’t have any idea at all.

Now, the ACA is something like Medicare: It is woven throughout the nation’s health insurance foundation. If you remove it, everything crumbles.

Yet, a Texas court has just ruled the whole act is unconstitutional and Trump has ordered his government not to defend it.

In two years, the president says, the Republican Party will be known as the party of health care.

Of course, this is the same guy who, two years ago, promised he wouldn’t touch Medicare or Medicaid and whose current budget proposal guts both programs.

I think if the Republicans finally succeed in destroying Obamacare they will surely be known as the party of health care – but not in the same sense the president thinks.

In the meantime, we would have 21 million Americans, plus friends and family members, who lose their main source of financial and medical stability and hundreds if not thousands of rural hospitals that face financial ruin.


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