As the summer continues to slide on by, it’s been interesting to watch the various machinations of the U.S. Congress as they try to solve the political, social and economic issues attached to healthcare.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or its nickname Obamacare, was signed into law in March of 2010.
President Obama made this legislation one of the cornerstones of his administration, devoting much of his political and social capital to get the law passed. If you will recall, the Democrats had majorities in both houses of Congress and still had a hard time passing the legislation.
Fred Grandy, the actor who played “Gopher” on the television show “The Love Boat,” served as a congressman from Iowa from 1987-1995. I covered many of his town hall events, and he had a saying that he often used that I have come to believe is very true.
Whenever someone asked him to have congress intervene in a situation, he would reply: “Are you sure you want us to get involved? Because if we do so, even with the best of intentions, we will probably make things worse in the end.”
As Obama used his momentum from the election to get Congress to pass the legislation, he was met by resistance from members of his own party. In the end, some late-night maneuvering and political quid pro quos were given to get the measure passed.
The Democrats lost their majority in the Senate in the mid-term elections of 2010, and the battle to repeal the ACA was joined. It has been going on for seven years now and a bill that was well intended has, in many ways, made things worse. No one who pays for health insurance or bills for healthcare services would call the last seven years “affordable.”
It seems that rates continue to rise and employers struggle to afford to be able to provide coverage, increasing deductibles and copayments in an effort to slow the rate of growth of premiums.
The ACA’s protection of people with pre-existing health conditions and allowing dependent children to remain on family policies until the age of 26 have been helpful.
Fast forward to 2016. Donald Trump is elected president, promising to repeal and replace the ACA. With Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, it should be a slam dunk, right?
Yeah, not so much.
Like Obama, Trump is battling members of his own party to get this campaign promise fulfilled.
This past week, the Senate worked late hours, trying to determine what measures would get enough support to proceed.
One of the more interesting proposals, in my opinion, came from Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who proposed that members of Congress be forced to purchase their own insurance, so they could somehow relate to what typical Americans are going through. Members of Congress get primo health insurance, courtesy of you and me.
It was a strictly principled amendment, one that didn’t have a snowball’s chance of passing, but I’m glad that someone in Washington has an inkling of what we are going through.
Hopefully a better measure will get passed, eventually.
But I wouldn’t bet on it.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.