Looking back over the years since the Affordable Care Act became America’s healthcare law of the land in 2010 without a single vote from any Republican in Washington, constant harping by GOP lawmakers across the board assigns blame for rising premium costs and other fragile features of the law only to the big, bad federal government and its big, bad healthcare plan.
Ohio’s two term-limited state leaders, Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, are on the same team with Ohio’s other statewide GOP officials and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, who have all done their level best to sabotage if they can or undercut whenever possible the ACA’s roll out and continued operation.
As most informed people know, so-called Obamacare, the nickname Republicans gave to the ACA, is really the Republican plan, as Steve Brill, author of “America’s Bitter Pill” so brilliantly pointed out. It was birthed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and put into play by Massachusetts’ Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. Once this is understood, it makes sense as to why the GOP can’t fix it after seven years of demonizing it for high costs that are directly linked to for-profit health insurers who, but for the ACA, would be raising premium costs without limit or denying coverage to people with “pre-existing” conditions – a unique concept central to America’s system that doesn’t exit in other industrialized countries whose plans rank far, far higher in quality than in the U.S.A.
Before the ACA, right-wing Republicans like Kasich and Taylor worked their rosary beads overtime as sky-high costs were the hallmark of companies like Unitedhealth Group, Wellpoint Inc. Group, Humana Group and the other top 25 health insurance companies. They raked in profits in an industry where the sky was the limit on pricing, and returning shareholders value was the point of pride for for-profit driven companies who paid their CEOs outrageous fortunes, worked to deny customers’ claims, and changed their terms and conditions at will, leaving consumers frustrated, angry, and left out.
President Donald Trump is doing his best to fulfill his claim that Obamacare is failing. One move the New York billionaire and reality TV show host busted recently is to shorten the period this year to enroll in plans and to provide fewer funds to advertise the new sign-up scheme. The White House has cut a month off the sign-up schedule and cut the advertising budget by a whopping 90 percent. People will now need to enroll in an insurance plan between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, compared to last year’s enrollment period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. Instead of increasing the budget to attract more plan purchasers, they are using the fact that first-time enrollees in the ACA fell by 42 percent this year compared with 2016.
Making matters worse, the Trump Administration is hoping to scuttle so-called “one-on-one support” for buying plans on the marketplaces by defunding such efforts from $63 million to $36 million. Kasich loves it when media pats him on the back for defending expanded Medicaid, a program that would make Ohio a healthcare basket case without it. The lame-duck governor has nothing to say about efforts by Washington Republicans and the Trump Administration to subvert the law operating as it was designed to.
Mary Taylor, who wants to be governor and who would represent a third terrible term for Kasich if elected next year, has wailed over the years about insurance premiums going up. Taylor also subs as the Director of Insurance (DOI) for Ohio, but she never mentions that Obamacare credits would reduce high insurance premiums to reasonable payments for those eligible. The DOI is again claiming the sky is falling by telling Buckeyes who buy their health insurance through the ACA they will pay 34 percent more on average next year. Ohioans should expect to see an 11 percent increase in healthcare premiums, the Dayton Daily News reported Monday.
DOI is taking the tact that cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments will be eliminated by the Trump Administration, which is so far taking it month-to-month. A DOI spokesman told the Dayton Daily News that the reason for the decision is that if the CSRs were to stop and insurance companies no longer had that money to help offer lower prices on deductibles and co-payments, then insurance companies “would either have to take a loss or suddenly drop out.” Taking a loss for a for-profit company is tantamount in GOP world to committing harikari.
How can they make a profit if they keep losing money by helping people stay health and alive? Insurance companies that used to be able to do what they want to their policy holders can no longer do so under the ACA, which prohibits them from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, charging different costs to men versus women, charging the elderly more than the young, or any number of tricks and traps that one way or another involve co-pays, co-insurance, and plan deductibles.
Do you remember when Kasich and Taylor could have run Ohio’s own exchange marketplace, but chickened out when they said Ohio couldn’t afford the $40 million set-up cost, punting exchange operations to the Obama Administration? Kasich and Taylor and their GOP ilk thinking picking and choosing among plan options is the free market way to get more people into the insurance pool. It wasn’t that long ago when then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky warned against the ACA daring to use the popularity of the National Football League to promote its offerings.
How’s that for American exceptionalism and team spirit? We’re all in the same boat, they say, but don’t dare row a different way because we want to stay stationary long enough that we can scuttle the boat and drown all the ACA sponsors in the process.
The Toledo Blade ran an editorial recently called “John Kasich Gets One Right,” which is affirmation to students of Kasich that he’s has gotten so many issues wrong – from women to taxes to energy to budgeting, and the list goes on and on.
“At times, Governor Kasich has been an absentee governor, seemingly more interested in kicking off a 2020 presidential campaign than tending to a growing list of needs in his own state,” the northwestern Ohio legacy newspaper wrote. “But he (Kasich) has been steadfast in his insistence that the federal government must provide quality health care to the citizenry.”
How rich, ironic and hypocritical is that of John Kasich, who ran for president last year saying “Washington is obsolete”, but who now insists that “the federal government must provide quality health care to the citizenry.” Kasich fumbled the ball on running Ohio’s exchange plan, thereby denying other states the Kasich model to follow.
President Obama tweaked Romney’s plan, and his Massachusetts plan was the Republican plan, endowed with an individual mandate and a penalty for not buying health insurance, both of which the U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional.
Sadly, the Great Reformer’s reforms are merely common place reforms, not the kind of radical change a single payer plan, by far smarter and more comprehensive than anything Kasich has dared dream about, would bring to America so it’s exceptionally poor choice to deliver access to healthcare can catch up to the rest of the world that has refused to choose Kasich free-market, for-profit model.