Refreshingly Frank on Obamacare

May 31, 2017

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It was a refreshingly frank interview. The Washington Post interviewed U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) after he resigned — ironically on Tuesday, May 23 — as co-chair of the Tuesday Group in a flare-up over Obamacare.

Members of this moderate Republican caucus were angered by MacArthur’s amendment, which put the GOP health care bill back on its feet after Speaker Paul Ryan’s failed attempts to bring it to the floor in March during the seventh anniversary of Obamacare. The entire Q&A interview is interestingly, but don’t miss this:

I am often asked why Republicans voted for repeal some 60 times and now they won’t do it. There are likely several reasons, including:

1)    It was safe. President Obama was never going to sign the bill.

2)    It was valuable. It gave Republicans political points with their base.

3)    It was politically useful. It helped assure Republican success in the voting booth.

4)    GOP donors didn’t care. Insurers and hospital systems that consolidated their control of health care under the law knew Obama wouldn’t sign the bills.

5)    Members of Congress are not as personally affected. In 2013, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management gave Congress a special exemption. It allowed Congress to certify itself as a “small business” so the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) could provide a “government contribution” ($5,000 - $12,000) to federal lawmakers and their staff on the D.C. Exchange, even though Congress did not appropriate the money. Most members of Congress and their staff choose from 57 gold-level plans, which have lower deductibles. Approximately 11,000 people participate in this “small business” coverage. In addition, people working for congressional committees who are not on a member’s office staff have access to FEHBP, which provides choices not available to most Americans. (*REVISED from 5/31 CCHF eNews email)

The Office of Personnel Management explaining the 245 FEHBP choices (including plans with $350 and $700 deductibles) writes: “Federal employees, retirees and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country.”

But some Republicans want full repeal. For example, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson told The Hill, “We could repeal all of Obamacare . . . I just don’t buy the fact that we can’t do that.” And Congressman Thomas Massie voted “no” on the GOP American Health Care Act, saying, “I’m voting against it because it’s not a full repeal.”

What now? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate is writing its own bill, the Senate won’t pass the House bill, and he doesn’t know if he can get 50 votes to pass the Senate bill. Thus, Congress may never willingly repeal Obamacare.

Will we have Obamacare forever? Good question. But that’s why we launched The Wedge of Health Freedom. It doesn’t require an act of Congress, although a repeal of the ACA prohibition on catastrophic coverage would be helpful. The Wedge only requires doctors and patients yearning to be free -- and making it happen together, regardless of what happens with Obamacare. We’re now at 200 practices. Find it at JointheWedge.com (Don’t miss the triangle diagram!)

Launching into freedom with you,

Twila Brase, RN, PHN

President and Co-founder