Saturday, February 7, 2015

Boddy Jindal and the Tragedy of a vote on OBAMACARE: looking beyond Governor’s Office?

Keywords or Terms: Gov. Bobby Jindal; Burr-Coburn-Hatch Plan; OBAMACARE; US House of Representative; John Katko (R-NY), Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL), and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME); US Senate; President Barack H. Obama; Heritage Foundation; King Vs. Burwell; Parent’s Health Plans; and, Prescription drug costs and Medicare Premiums

American Democrats have become skeptical about the continued move by House Republicans to undermine OBAMACARE by voting to repeal it, after an umpteenth attempt on the floor. By my last count, over fifty-two congressional bills and or voting were raised or completed to overturn the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Before succeeding on Tuesday February 3, 2015, on a vote spread of 229-195, largely along party line, except for three Republicans, John Katko (R-NY), Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL), and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), who voted against repeal,  Republicans cornered themselves into believing that all they need to reach more Americans is to kill the Affordable Care Act. A more realistic assessment by Congressional Observers is that the current move or repeal was pointless; and, largely a fruitless effort, as long as President Obama still has a veto on his desk and there wasn’t a number as high as six Democratic Senators willing to defect to support a veto override in US Senate. Immediately after the House vote to repeal, some aspiring Republican Governors for the 2016 Presidential Party Nomination opened up the tap of criticisms and a braggadocio against the law, best left outside the door of humility and commonsense.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who has refused to implement the law in his state and once said in 2012, he is committed to working to elect Governor Romney to repeal Obamacare, even after the Supreme Court upheld the health care law as constitutional, said and probably did what he admonished the Republican party not to become, a stupid party. His sentimental comments encapsulated in a plan to replace OBAMCARE: “if people wanted to use their standard deduction to pay for insurance through their employer, they could do that, but they don’t have to”, will eventually be remembered by voters and probably, scuttle his presumed clear path for 2016 presidential bid.

Assuming we default to Jindal’s plan for repealing and junking OBAMACARE, what will happen immediately to those millions that automatically lose their health coverage as the law is repealed? Why is Jindal’s replacement option synonymous with Burr-Coburn-Hatch Plan that offers tax credit for caring health insurance under an individual market scheme? Wouldn’t younger and healthier employees find a reason to leave employer-sponsored health insurance for the individual market? Was this not the similar environment that led to inefficiency in previous health insurance scheme that called for the reform in the system? It is hard to default to a proposal from a governor who failed to see any good in the law in the first place and refused to implement it in his state. If the objective of Governor Jindal is to replace OBAMACARE, why is he rendering tautological comments that seem convoluted? How does he come about the conclusion that a Supreme Court decision in King Versus Burwell could cause a disruption? What disruption, after all he has not chosen to implement the law in his state and the subsidies under Obamacare which he probably believe is illegal, will not impact his state residents, disproportionately?

One must understand that there is often an underlying motive for what comes out of the mouth of a politician; or, a plan designed by a governor, who believes in a thing as dumbed down conservatism. Governor Jindal’s 2014 Replacement Plan for Obamacare, is better understood than his current observation or brow-ha-ha on repealing OBAMACARE. His ‘cost not coverage’ hypothesis in the Freedom and Empowerment Plan - The Prescription for Conservative Consumer-Focused Health Reform, was appealing to Conservative Republicans, who considered his proposal as a viable alternative plan ever offered by Republicans in their ventilating ambition to repeal OBAMACARE. Incidentally, some Louisiana State Legislators criticized the governor for having done little to implement the law while many languished in health poverty in their state. To this group, Jindal has been moving the state in the wrong direction; and, may end up making citizens of his state perpetually deprived of federal funds that can help eradicate health poverty in Louisiana.

Arguing in the mode of Governor Bobby Jindal, Alyene Senger of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, identifies the five reasons why Congress must repeal OBAMACARE in 2015: 1) Obamacare creates $1.8 trillion in new health care spending and uses cuts to Medicare spending to help pay for some of it; 2) Millions of Americans already have lost, and more likely will lose, their coverage because of Obamacare; 3) Many Americans have not been able to keep their doctors as insurers try to offset the added costs of Obamacare by limiting the number of providers in their networks; 4)  the law increases cost of health coverage; and, 5) Obamacare contains 18 separate tax increases, fees and penalties. Alyene Senger’s criticisms mirror so closely Jindal’s Freedom and Empowerment Plan that you wonder if they both didn’t sit down to compare notes on their take on OBAMACARE.  Jindal’s comments this week is an eye-opener for many who see some mischief in his plan: “election vote canvasing, voters will swam to Republican Party because they have a new face that packages their disenfranchisement message better.” The clause added to Republican’s re-submitted repeal(s), included the clause recommended in Jindal’s Empowerment Plan. Talk about absurdities and recrimination in a plan offered to correct for minor error in the language of a law? Frankly, if Governor Jindal is seeking to run for the 2016 Presidential Election Contest, some of these criticisms may come to bite him on the campaign trail, as beneficiaries of the law, will confront him with facts and statistics that contravenes many of his associated criticisms of the law.

For informed voters, here is what is likely to happen if the Republicans have their way with OBAMACARE: 1) over ten million Americans lose health care insurance, most of whom are adults in their early years (21-26), who are currently covered because they remain on their parents’ plan; 2) Over One hundred and twenty-nine million  patients with pre-existing conditions get notices of re-caps on their insurance coverage and some of them are let go of exiting insurance coverage; 3) Over eight million seniors on Medicare may have increases in prescription drug costs and Medicare premiums; 4) hospital emergency room reverts back to a teaming million without health insurance and expecting to be cared for in an emergency; 5) the broken health care system that OBAMACARE sorts to correct rears its ugly head as insurance companies become free to do whatever they like and millions of middle income earners suffer the repercussions; 6) the newly regulated market place for health insurance becomes a thing of the past and many states that have seen a decline in the number of the uninsured Americans begin to see the dreaded reversal; and, 7) healthcare cost for those without health coverage become ruinous as cost of treatment is overbearing for household income. There are numerous other things that could happen that are not covered here. The good news however is this: “The only true chance of gutting the law will come after President Obama leaves office; and even at that, it is probably only when a Republican gets into the White House; less that, the move will still remain futile.”

Republicans’ criticisms and replacement plans for OBAMACARE remain vague at best and the procedure offered to resolve a few languages abnormally of the law are unclear and debatable. The explanations for the weakness of the law seem very wrong in light of millions that will be thrown back into health poverty if the law is abrogated. There are already provisions for automatic penalty for noncompliance in the law. Subsidies to states without exchanges can be made universal, as the federal exchanges are universally available for all Americans. Amendments to the law are in line to correct for ambiguity of language use; however, there is no ground to justifiably repeal or abrogate or do away with the law as recommended by Republicans. Democrats, please vote in record number in 2016 Presidential Elections to preserve our gains on healthcare.  
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