A pre-Halloween comedy was presented in Congress Wednesday and it received rave reviews. In order to force taxpayers to pay for the comedic farce, it was billed as a “hearing” even though no listening was going on. I was fortunate to watch it live.
The theme of the theatrical farce was the Hollywood blockbuster—the Wizard of Oz. Despite repeated references to the movie by the actors playing the role of Republican lawmakers, the only connection seemed to be that the witness, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, was a former governor of Kansas.
The best Oz reference, however, came from a Democrat who reminded the audience that in the movie, the group was going to see the Wizard because of all the “wonderful things he does.”
Farce and comedy were the rule of the day. The highlight was when a 90-year-old Republican Congressman told the 65-year-old witness that when he was in third grade, he thought he saw her riding her tricycle in Kansas. If he did, he must have failed the first and second grades about 9 times each—do the math. The Secretary, who was born and raised in Ohio, told the Congressman “it was an illusion.”
It is too bad the entire hearing wasn’t an illusion. Unfortunately it was Republican governance on display. Here are some things we learned from the comedic farce.
We learned that insurance companies are targeting constituents of Republicans in Congress with insurance cancellations. Every Republican on the committee said they had a letter from a constituent who said his insurance was cancelled and it would cost him or her hundreds of dollars or more a month to buy a new policy. None, of course, shopped for a replacement on an exchange. It seems insurance companies have it in for Republicans.
Each of these Republican Congressmen and women asked Secretary Sebelius what she had to say to their constituent, and every one of them interrupted her when she tried to answer. None of these Faux-Congressmen appeared to be reading from an actual letter.
We also learned that no matter what part of the country they came from, these constituents used the exact same wording and vocabulary in their letters. The only variation in the wording of the letters read in committee was the percentage their new insurance premiums had increased. Sociologists and psychologists from our best universities need to study this phenomenon.
Another revelation was that many Congressmen have never read a word of the law they hate. Take Rep. Cory Gardener from Colorado. He didn’t realize it, but he made a fool of himself when he asked the Secretary why she did not buy her insurance on an exchange. He talked over her when she explained that it was not legal for her to do so. Had the Republican Congressman listened or perhaps read the law, he would know that individuals on Medicare, like the Secretary, are not eligible to buy insurance on the exchange. She also gets her supplemental insurance from her employer which also makes her ineligible.
Rep. Gardener also showed his total and complete ignorance when he made an official request that Secretary Sebelius exempt his entire 4th Congressional District from Obamacare. Had he read the law, he would know that there are no provisions for such an exemption. Imagine his embarrassment.
The GOP “actors” repeated the same lines over and over like a refrain from a bad song. They harped about how the president misled the American people when he said that “if you like your insurance, you can keep it.” They did not listen to a single word of the Secretary’s explanation of the law Republicans have never read.
Had they shut up and listened they would have heard that the ACA grandfathered insurance policies issued before 2010 when the law began to take effect. Those policies could and can still be kept.
The policies that are being cancelled are junk policies insurance companies issued after the date of the grandfather clause, or policies that were modified by the insurance company after that date. Insurance companies sold these policies knowing full well they were non-compliant and would have to be cancelled. They did not disclose that to the consumers who unwittingly bought these policies. But it’s Obama’s fault.
Lastly, we learned that Republicans do not want Americans to have good insurance, or for that matter, insurance at all.