As the Tea Party wing of Congress forces House Speaker John Boehner's hand with yet another threat of government shutdown, the House Republican Study Committee unveiled the American Health Care Reform Act and presented it as a sincere attempt to solve America's health care crisis.
"While we continue fighting to repeal the president’s health care law, it is also important to lay out the reforms we stand behind and support” is how committee chairman Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) put it.
The House has infamously voted 40 times to repeal the supposedly "unpopular" Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, the law that forces insurers to sell coverage to critically ill people, that lets millions of young adults up to age 26 stay on parents' health plans, that keeps millions of seniors from going broke paying for prescriptions, that gives free, life-saving health screenings to all Americans...and more.
Congressional Republicans are convinced that years of anti-Obamacare advertising, speech-making, blogging and TV/Radio programming have a majority of Americans misunderstanding or overlooking all the benefits they're getting out of the law and focusing instead on the big, bad bogeyman fear factor: "Big Government".
In July, Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a bill called the Defund Obamacare Act, H.R. 2682. The bill holds ongoing funding and operation of our American government hostage to defunding and destruction of Obamacare and is at the center of the current furor over a looming government shutdown.
As extremist as these conservative Republicans and their tactics may be, they did realize that after years of attacking Obamacare they ought to at least suggest an alternative. Now they've done just that.
So how does the GOP plan do at helping the millions of Americans already benefiting from Obamacare?
How does this Republican alternative do at solving the economic crisis caused by having 48 million uninsured Americans (almost 4 million in Florida) getting "uncompensated" Emergency Room care that insured middle class taxpayers pay for in higher premiums, deductibles, co-payments and taxes?
In a nutshell, try to imagine wearing a wetsuit to protect yourself on a spacewalk, as opposed to wearing a NASA designed spacesuit.
At the cold heart of this plan is the disappointing and dysfunctional "Every man for himself (women and children too)!" philosophy that's turning increasing numbers of Americans, especially younger ones, against the Republican Party.
Their Obamacare replacement has four core components:
- Tax deductions of $7,500 per individual & $20,000 per family for those with health insurance
- Larger contributions allowed to personal Health Savings Accounts
- Health insurance could be purchased across state lines
- Temporary funding to help states cover costs of sickest "high risk" citizens
No more forcing insurance companies to insure people with preexisting conditions.
No more letting young people stay on their parent's insurance until age 26.
No more saving seniors from going broke paying for prescription drugs.
No more universally free preventive health screenings.
No answer to how to insure most of America's 48 million uninsured people.
No relief for middle class that ends up paying for uninsured care in the end.
It is what it is. 'Nuff said.