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.