Republicans Fail to Repeal Obamacare: Where Do We Go From Here

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Senator John McCain of Arizona leaving the Senate chamber early Friday after casting the vote that ensured the measure’s defeat: Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

By Glynn Wilson –

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Millions of Americans desperately clinging to some form of health care coverage can breath a sigh of relief Friday morning as the anti-government Republicans in charge of the United States Senate, at the behest of an unhinged president, failed to put together enough votes to abolish the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature law that placed regulations on the health care and insurance industries for the first time.

After seven years of vowing to get rid of the law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, “whose reputation as a master strategist was in tatters,” according to the New York Times, gave in at 1:30 a.m. and declared: “It’s time to move on.”

After spending days trying to craft a bill that would pass behind closed doors and without any form of public input or debate, Republican Senators tried to pass a scaled-down repeal bill without any plan to replace Obamacare or any support from a single Democrat. But in what the Washington press corps called a “dramatic moment,” it was Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, who cast the deciding vote to derail McConnell’s effort to please President Donald Trump. McCain was joined by two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who sent the bill to defeat by a vote of 49-to-51

The Senate’s failure means that the Affordable Care Act, which extended health insurance to 20 million people and drove the percentage of uninsured people to historic lows, remains in place and “must be administered by an administration hostile to it,” according to Reuters.

“The failure called into question the Republican Party’s basic ability to govern even as it controls the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. Trump has not had a major legislative victory after more than six months in office. He had vowed to get major healthcare legislation, tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending through Congress in short order.”

In typical delusional fashion, Trump could not resist getting on his phone and tweeting an idiotic statement that was broadcast by every mainstream news organization in the land and only celebrated by a tiny fraction of voters, who apparently support Trump’s effort to blow up the U.S. government and derail American democracy.

“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!”

The Republican bill that finally emerged from the shadows only to fail on the Senate floor would have retroactively repealed the law’s penalty on people who do not obtain health insurance, known as the individual mandate. It would have repealed for eight years a penalty on businesses that do not provide employees with insurance. It would have repealed a tax on medical devices for three years until 2020.

The nonpartisan, independent Congressional Budget Office estimated 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 if the bill became law.

The failure of Republicans wanting to actually work with transparency and with Democrats to fix the problems with the ACA leaves uncertainty in the healthcare marketplace, with some states such as Alabama not participating in expanding Medicaid to cover the old, young, sick and disabled and only one insurance provider and no competition, Blue Cross Blue Sheild, which is free to raise rates and deductibles on patients with no help from the state’s governor or legislature.

In other states insurance companies are pulling out due to the confusion caused by the anti-government rhetoric in Washington. Companies will have only until September to finalize their 2018 plans. Humana, Aetna and other companies have pulled out of uncertain markets where payments are questionable, while other companies have raised rates by double digits and plan more increases on those with work related insurance.

While Trump and other Republicans seem content to let the marketplace fail for political reasons, some Senators, including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have continued to push for a bipartisan effort to provide universal health care coverage for all Americans.

Even former President Jimmy Carter is now advocating for a single-payer universal health care system.

One of the ways this could be accomplished would be for Congress to legally require and fund Medicaid for anyone not covered by other forms of insurance.

But for such a plan to have a chance, the Democrats would have to take back majority control of the House and Senate in the 2018 mid-term elections — and Trump would have to be impeached by Congress and removed from office after a special counsel’s report proves that Trump and his associates colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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