by Bob Gatty.
Republican Senate leaders on Tuesday, Sept. 26 decided not to hold a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill that was intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act following defections by several key GOP senators and a disastrous last-minute hearing Sept. 25.
That decision effectively preserves the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare, but top Republicans, according to published reports, indicated they would not act to bolster the insurance market, hoping ongoing instability would backfire on Democrats and build momentum for eventual repeal.
“I personally think it’s time for the American people to see what the Democrats have done to them on health care,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). “They’re going to find they can’t pay for it, they’re going to find that it doesn’t work…Now that will make it tough on everybody. Maybe that’s what it takes to wise people up.”
Insurers must sign contracts with the federal government by Sept. 27 to sell plans on the ACA marketplaces for 2018, and many companies are dramatically hiking rates. However, they had suggested those increases could be curbed if they knew the government would provide cost-sharing reduction payments for all of next year. Currently, the Trump administration is providing those payments on a month-to-month basis and has not indicated they will continue.
If Republicans and Trump believe the irresponsible tactic of allowing health care premiums to skyrocket will work against Democrats and to their advantage, they may be in for a surprise. But it will be important for Democratic lawmakers and candidates to make certain voters understand exactly who is to blame.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said Democrats would work with Republicans to improve the ACA and fix its problems if they dropped their repeal initiative.
The hearing held Monday resulted in protesters, some blind and in wheelchairs, being handcuffed and kicked out of the hearing room by police. The resulting media was less than positive, witness this article in The Washington Post.
Bob Gatty, a Carolina Forest resident, is Communications Coordinator for the Horry County Democratic Party. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.