I just received the latest email from my congressman, Rep. Tom Graves. It lauds President Trump’s health plan that “repeals the taxes, the mandates and the broken promises of the previous administration, and begins the process of rescuing families who are hurting.” That’s pretty ambitious for a Republican party that has not cared about the health of families since defeating the Bill Clinton Health Reform of 1994 and not coming up with anything to replace it. If you add on the lack of backing of the reforms that President George Bush tried during his tenure as president, that’s 15 years of inaction and neglecting hurting families before President Obama was elected. Within two years President Obama had a plan in place, and the Republicans have spent the last seven years trying to take away the benefits that 20 million Americans have obtained through the Affordable Care Act by voting 55 or more times to repeal it before the present Trump Plan was written.
I learned some unpublicized facts about “Obamacare” from an interview on National Public Radio on Feb. 9, 2017 which featured Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services from April, 2009 through June 2014. Contrary to the perception that Obamacare was “shoved down the throats” of Republicans, who had no input in the plan, Mrs. Sebelius said that there were numerous amendments proposed by the Republicans and “most” (her word) were added to the Act. The Public Option was dropped from the plan at the behest of the Republicans. The mandates that Congressman Graves mentions were a Republican amendment to the Act because those being insured had to shoulder some responsibility. The fact that no Republicans voted for Obamacare, and 27 Republican Attorney Generals filed lawsuits against its application in their respective states on the day it was signed into law, gives the impression that the Republicans had no part in its conception.
There is an emphasis to cite rising premiums and drop out of insurance providers to back up the charge that Obamacare is a “disaster.” Mrs. Sebelius said that there was a risk protection provision in the Act which was to make sure that all providers were kept on a sound financial footing. This enabled smaller health insurers to participate fully. Two years into the plan, the Republicans voted to withdraw the money for the Risk Protection Plan and cancelled its operation. As a result, insurers could only survive by raising premiums or leaving the program entirely. This is how much the Republicans cared about the “hurting families” they are crowing about helping now. The “hurting families” seem to be creations to provide talking points to undermine an accomplishment that President Obama was able to do in the second year of his administration that the Republicans had failed to do, or not cared about doing, in the preceding 17 years of their service.