Obamacare Supporters Divide Into Groups To Protect Their Interests, But Not Everyone Is Represented
There's a lot of speculation about which group of Americans will be hurt the most by impending Republican health care reform legislation. People with preexisting conditions may see these exclusions return in some form. People with life-threatening medical conditions requiring expensive medical care may see the return of annual/lifetime limits. Group health plans may see their tax-favored plans altered and made less attractive. And freelancers and entrepreneurs may be forced to return to traditional employment, if available.
Everyone that is not wealthy enough to pay for health insurance or fortunate enough to have someone else pay for it has a reason to be concerned about Republican changes to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). And that's because health care reform is just an unwanted political exercise to Republicans. Made necessary by a law, that despite its shortcomings had a larger goal of providing affordable, comprehensive health insurance to all Americans.
Oddly, not repealing Obamacare is more popular than the law itself. A lot has changed since the law's inception in 2010. While Republican lawmakers waited and tried to hasten the law's collapse by ending funding for the risk corridor program, something else happened—lives were saved. Cancer diagnoses that would never have occurred did. People with life altering mental illnesses started receiving treatment that allowed them to be more productive. Various artists obtained insurance for the first time in decades. The Obamacare death spiral that House Speaker Paul Ryan was so hoping for and wrongly claims is upon us didn't happen soon enough.
There are just too many Obamacare success stories getting in the way of the GOP narrative that every single component of the law has been a total failure. Not that Republican lawmakers are not trying to continue to push the narrative of Obamacare as the dumbest law ever passed by the government. They've even gone so far as to claim paid protesters are behind the current, vocal swell of support for the law, and are giving shout-outs to their well-funded and well-organized protesters to counter this support. This Retweet from the Heritage Foundation says it all:
But informed individuals persist, to make sure they are not the ones that come out on the losing side of a Republican health care plan. In fact, the best ticket in town is one to a Republican town hall meeting on Obamacare. Videos of these meetings have gone viral on social media. The energy, passion, and knowledge of many of these individuals have taken the GOP by surprise.
And it's not just individuals making their voices heard in this heated health care reform debate. Powerful groups like large employers, health insurers, hospital and doctor associations and big Pharma want to make sure Congress understands their concerns as well. But instead of attending town halls or writing on social media, these well-funded groups are sending lobbyists to Congress to protect their interests.
Employer groups are sending lobbyists to express concern about eliminating the tax-favored status of group health plans and Obamacare reporting requirements. Health insurance companies are sending lobbyists to make sure that new legislation reduces or eliminates their risk of losses by restricting coverage, reducing enrollment periods and requiring more money to cover the very ill. Hospital and doctor associations are sending lobbyists to ensure they can continue to charge whatever they want for their services. And big Pharma has been there and done that.
And, of course, everyone has a right to try to protect his or her interests in this contested health care reform debate. If you have a hemophiliac teenager, your concern about the return of annual and lifetime benefit limits is valid. But don't make the mistake of thinking that your support of Obamacare automatically helps everyone that benefits from the law. That is not the case. The groups most vulnerable to Republican-style health care reform are the poor and very poor. If Republicans have their way, traditional Medicaid and Medicaid expansion will be the biggest losers. Just this week Congress held several sessions to discuss changes to Medicaid via a reconciliation bill to repeal Obamacare. This is safe territory for the GOP because they know the poor don't vote and are too busy trying to survive to be activists.
Some people, like Tennessee school teacher, Jessi Bohon, whose town hall appearance went viral on social media, are looking out for the poor and very poor, but most people are not that specific. If we are to challenge the powerful Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who has no empathy for the poor, including poor children, everyone has to start advocating maintenance of the traditional Medicaid federal/state arrangement and Medicaid expansion. The GOP has set its sight on a major Medicaid overhaul to distract from the tough task of reducing the cost of health insurance and health care for Americans not receiving Medicaid. But if they succeed in slashing Medicaid benefits it will be an illusory victory because we will all pay in the end for medical care for the very poor and very sick.