Collaboration was good while it lasted

Many of us were encouraged to see the US Congress pass some needed legislation the last two months of the year with thanks to John Boehner and Paul Ryan. Boehner greased the skids during his exit for Ryan by getting the debt ceiling increased until next fall and paving the way for a budget deal. With these efforts, the strident part of the Republican Party gave Ryan a hall pass as legislation was passed on key transportation, education and budget issues. None are perfect, but the signed laws showed collaboration.

Most pundits did not feel the Kum-ba-ya period of needed collaboration would last too long into 2016 and it will end soon. The House is expected to pass a partisan Obamacare repeal (yet again) joined with defunding Planned Parenthood. This time, though, it is on the heels of a similar vote that was maneuvered through the Senate at the end of the year. So, if passed, this bill will go to the President for his veto, which he said would be forthcoming. There are not enough votes to overturn the veto, so this a symbolic vote to throw meat to the strident members of the party.

There are just two problems that these bills do not recognize, which I have written about before. Both Obamacare and Planned Parenthood help many people in need, as well as other Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck.

Obamacare is working pretty well, but you would not glean this if you only watched conservative news sources. It is not perfect and is hard to communicate like most health insurance, but it is doing its job to expand healthcare insurance to many as the rate of uninsured continues to fall and cost projections have dampened. Yes, some carriers are experiencing higher costs due to a greater number of higher risk enrollees than intended, but the framework is there for success even though Congress would not fund the reinsurance pools and continues to chip away at it.

I would add that it still has not been fully implemented with about twenty states who did not expand Medicaid for those beneath just above or beneath the poverty level. The states who did are seeing better coverage results, improved rural health care, and better economic spending. The rural health care concerns me as the party whose voters would benefit the most from this are still naysaying it. It should be noted, per Kaiser Family Foundation surveys, most Americans want to keep Obamacare, but see it improved. It frustrates me that our conservative Congress members are spending their time listening to only a segment of Americans.

Planned Parenthood is even a bigger lightning rod. While only 3% of their funding goes to abortions, none of that comes from federal funding. What PP does is provide healthcare services to women and families who may not have means to get coverage elsewhere. It is also truism in clinics like PP actually reduce the number of abortions through birth control and education. Yet, that is lost on the spirited misinformation and disinformation campaign tactics used by abortion foes. The Congressional Committee was an embarrassment as the Congressional representatives misstated facts and quoted websites as if they were sponsored by PP as they tried to bully the PP CEO.  I read last week that one Congress person said she felt PP gave out faulty birth control so that they could perform more abortions. Now, why on earth would they do that?

Personally, I have grown weary of the Obamacare bashing. It is largely a Republican idea, which the President modified. I find these politicians more focused on political machinations than helping people. Obamacare is saving lives and protecting family assets. Yes, it could be improved, but judge it on its merits and faults and not politics.

Planned Parenthood also is getting a bad rap. It helps many in our country, yet it gets highly politicized to acquiesce to abortion foes. Again, abortion funding does not come from the federal government. So, by cutting funding, it hurts American women and families.

Let me close with two comments. First, we have a poverty problem in our country and too many on top of them living paycheck to paycheck. Obamacare and Planned Parenthood helps people in these demographic groups. Obamacare could help even more with full Medicaid expansion in the remaining states. Second, we have a growing number of people working part-time and as independent contractors. Obamacare gives these folks access to affordable health care insurance that cannot get from an employer.

Congress, please stop the seemingly endless votes to repeal Obamacare and continuing funding Planned Parenthood. Use real data in your decisions and listen to all Americans, who want both to continue.



22 thoughts on “Collaboration was good while it lasted

    • Janis, it would be chaos. I don’t know if you are following the new Kentucky governor who said he would unwind the successful Medicaid expansion if elected. He is backing off that as he realizes the problems it would cause. Senator Burr does have an idea, it is essentially Obamacare light. You are right, Repealing it would be a poor move. Keith

  1. It is precisely because those two programs help the poor that the Repubs refuse to support them. The Republicans have lately become the party of the rich, more concerned about profits than people. And when it comes to Planned Parenthood, as we have discussed, this is an essential program — inadequate though it be — in a world that has become far too crowded.

    • Hugh, you are correct. What has puzzled me is those who live in rural areas, whose economy is suffering more, who are in poverty or living paycheck to paycheck and who tend to vote Republican would benefit by the continuation of both programs. Yet, they are told both are evil by the leadership of the more strident GOP groups all the way to the top. There is an attorney here who spends much of time helping people who did not sign up for the ACA and had a health care event. He said most of his clients are Republican voters who did not give due consideration to the ACA. Thanks for commenting, Keith

      • Well, how about Teddy Roosevelt? He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but after his term as governor of New York, seeing what the “cottage industries” were doing to the poor in the tenements he became a president for the people — and a Trust-buster as well. He was Republican. And I’m not sure about Ike. He warned us about the “military-industrial” complex and could easily have run as a Democrat. But, as you suggest, there weren’t many and certainly none since Ike!!

      • Hugh, all the names you mentioned: Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and perhaps a few more but just a few…might as well as been scratched on the walls of a dark cave. Another time. Another era. The ethos…there was an ethos. Ethics…not discarded. Yet. Purpose…there was purpose AND accountability. The difference: then vs. now? I don’t see purpose [today] without some form of gain…personal, business, financial. Tic all the boxes. Accountability? Yeah….right. You find it. I’ll stand right beside you and applaude until my hands bleed. [I’m stepping down off the box now…time to feed my smart, book-reading/eating dog…and take her for a walk in the melting ice. Thanks. For a whole bunch of good writing…you keep my gray cells jumping.] Raye

      • I must confess I had trouble coming up with those names and you are absolutely right: they are from another era entirely. The Repubs of late without exception fight for profits, not for people.

      • Raye, Hugh, I enjoyed reading your banter. I would add that LBJ sought out and received help from more moderate GOP members in Congress to get Civil Rights and Voters Rights laws passed, knowing he could not rely on Dixiecrats in Congress. Today, moderate GOP members are harder to find and are chastised when they don’t tow the party line. Thanks for the refreshing dialogue. Keith

    • Kim, you are so right. What is interesting to me is when the truth won’t work for politicians, they make something up with some basis for being. The ACA is working pretty well, but if you highlight the areas where it needs to improve or its growing pains, people can miss the broader point. What I also do not care for is a group doing every thing in their power to makes some thing not succeed and then point fingers when it falls a little short. As Janis and I chatted about, if the ACA is done away with, it would be a huge problem for our country and its economy. Plus real people would be harmed. Many thanks, Keith

  2. Note to Readers: Here is an interesting article on the backing down of the new Kentucky Governor on his campaign promise to repeal the state’s Medicaid Expansion. Kentuckians favor the ACA with a 72% positive survey result. It shows how many other GOP governors are looking to adopt expansion with a right to make a few modifications. I guess Congressional Republicans are unaware of this trend.

  3. It is interesting, isn’t it, how the public criticizes Obamacare without knowing any real data about its efficacy. True that there are issues with it but, as you point out, no system is flawless and modifications continue to be made. Thank you for sharing your opinions so intelligently with us, my friend! I wish you a wonderful New Year. I have missed you too!

    • Thanks Christy. You have been missed on your blog and with your comments. Please feel free to opine anytime. I am interested in the updated enrollment data with the ACA as it continues to roll along. Thanks for commenting, Keith

  4. Note to Readers: I read an op-ed this morning penned by the executive directors of two foundations, Kate B. Reynolds and Cone Health, who noted their nonpartisan sponsored analysis showed that by expanding Medicaid in North Carolina, not only would 500,000 people gain access to health coverage, but 43,000 jobs would be created by 2020 with the influx of federal money to fund between 90% and 100% of the added cost.

  5. Note to Readers: The US House voted for the 62nd time today to repeal the ACA. This time it will go to the White House where it will be vetoed. It is my view this action by the Republican led Congress will harm their party as these leaders are not listening to the American people who said by survey to keep the law, but make it better. Plus, they are vastly short changing the success of the program, focusing only on areas where it could be improved – some of which they abetted.

  6. The ObamaCare repeal is nuts considering they didn’t replace it with anything. Obamacare isn’t perfect and has room for improvement; it also didn’t cover certain things that it should have. I don’t think people realize just how they benefit from Obamacare.

    The other things that Planned Parenthood does are: accept new patients, accept Medicaid. Local clinics aren’t required to accept Medicaid patients, and even if they do can limit the number of patients they accept.

    • Thanks Roseylinn. Good points, especially about PP. The thing on Obamacare that does not get talked about enough is the positive economic impact in rural communities in states that expanded Medicaid.

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