Monday, July 17, 2017

Health care: The American people want what Congress had

Sen. John McCain
Senator McCain

In the New Yorker in January:

...For all its flaws, bumbled launch, and absence of Republican support, the A.C.A. has provided health insurance to some twenty million Americans who didn’t have it before. Republicans have been venomously eager to dismantle it ever since...

If it’s sometimes hard to understand what makes Republican legislators so angry, here is a theory: their fury may not stem from some ungraspable principle, or hatred of President Obama’s historic victory (or of Obama himself), but, rather, from something personal, and selfish. 

Under the A.C.A., members of Congress, and congressional staff, among other Capitol Hill employees, were no longer eligible for the F.E.H.B.P. In the chilly language of government directives, the Office of Personnel Management Web site said that “Section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act requires that Members of Congress and their official staff obtain coverage by health plans created under the Affordable Care Act or coverage offered via an Affordable Insurance Exchange.”

Ouch! In other words, the comfortable choices that were available for more than fifty years were suddenly transferred to the slightly murky passageways of Obamacare. And it follows that, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, members of Congress would be able to return to the federal plan that they, like millions of federal employees, were so fond of. Twenty million other Americans won’t.

A better idea, though, might be to find a path (it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly easier than anything else that might be effective and that hundreds of legislators could ever agree upon) to finally offer the beloved, and by most accounts well-administered, federal plan to the rest of the uninsured nation. We can almost hear America demanding, “We want what they’re having.” If Congress is serious about repealing, and replacing, the act, then that’s the sort of replacement that almost anyone could live with.

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