By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Trump Administration Playing Games with American Lives
The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” as it has come to be called was not perfect. In fact, its very beginning was rife with partisanship and was passed by Democrats in the House and Senate with no Republican support. Facing many of the hurdles of any new start-up and with a lofty goal of assisting 48 million uninsured Americans gain access to health insurance, the ACA rolled out with bumps and missteps that raised doubt about the program’s future. However, what was never in question was President Barack Obama’s desire to do what was right for the country’s people. Rep. Patrick Kennedy said it best, “Health care is not only a civil right, it’s a moral issue.”
Obama and the democrats fought hard and long. In the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee alone, the drafting of the bill took nearly two months and saw some 500 amendments. The Senate Finance Committee had 53 meetings, 564 proposed amendments, 130 amendments, 79 roll-call votes, 44 hearings and public events. The work was tedious, but thoughtful and deliberate.
Republicans, as we know, always argued against the ACA for ideological and monetary reasons. Conservatives saw the plan to have healthier individuals help subsidize the care for others as government overreach and a redistribution of wealth. Further, many republicans don’t believe in universal coverage and government interference in healthcare insurance. Over the course of 7 years, they have held over 60 unsuccessful Congressional votes, forced the Supreme Court to weigh in and even forced a two-week government shutdown. They vowed they would repeal and replace Obamacare.
Fast forward to the mess that is healthcare under the Trump administration.
In November 2016, Trump in his blatant ignorance of the legislative process, boasted that repeal and replace would be done “simultaneously.” In February 2017, two months after Trump’s failure to repeal Obamacare immediately, he said “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” The republicans, who in 7 years haven’t produced a viable replacement, knew. Everyone but Trump, who made promises to affordably insure everyone but has shown know real grasp of the details or mechanics of any sponsored GOP healthcare initiative, knew.
There is one thing though that Trump was keenly aware of and talked about. Since the Republicans failed to repeal healthcare, in April he threatened to use the subsidies payed to insurance companies to force Democrats to the negotiating table. These payments reduce deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for more than seven million people. Last week, Trump made good on that promise. His game of “chicken” is going to hurt seniors, the poor, women, and many sick Americans. Millions of people who buy their own plan will be hit hard and Trump doesn’t care. To add injury to insult, he also signed an executive order to enable health insurers to sell poorly regulated plans outside the marketplaces. I know a good deal when I hear it, and this is not it.