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Your tax dollars at work

The current situation with federal health care legislation reminds me of a song from the 70s: ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’. The GOP, after ranting and raving about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for seven years, is stalled in their effort to do something about it.

The House finally passed something ( The American Health Care Act) that meets none of candidate Donald Trump’s large promises in this area. Their bill is DOA in the Senate. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has effectively said about AHCA....“Naw, naw, naw.” The Senate, having had the same seven year opportunity, plus a few extra months, is going to start from scratch. Drafting effective legislation is very hard, but becomes even harder when you sit on your hands while others cover their eyes.

Our president tells us the Obamacare is dead. He is wrong. It remains in effect. Companies are still required to provide insurance. If they try not to, they will have their pants sued off. Trump cannot change that. Insurance for pre-existing conditions is still required for individuals and families as well. There are several major flaws in the PPAACA, but the fatal flaw is the attempt to require everyone to purchase insurance. The mechanism for this was fining those who did not. Young people, already struggling with the costs of starting a life, including college loans for many, saw the fine as cheaper than the insurance. Being healthy it seemed a wise bet to them. So the risk pool did not grow with the expected number of healthy young folk and costs continued to rise .

Insurance companies have raised prices and have exited some markets altogether. Some markets have only one provider and some have none. The competition that was supposed to drive prices down is non-existent in many places. The president has effectively told the IRS not to enforce the fine - a move likely to further shrink the risk pool and raise prices. Another feature of the PPAACA was federal subsidies to insurance companies for low income families. Now Trump is allegedly considering dropping the subsidies, which will result in unaffordable insurance costs for low income families and individuals. But this decision is based not on what is best for the people. He is evaluating it based on which way will allow him to win – who will get the blame

We heard candidate Trump talk about draining the swamp many times. Not enforcing the law. Eliminating insurance just because he can. This does not sound too much like draining the swamp. It sounds like the standard political tricks that have frustrated the populace.

There are three major options: Repeal and Replace, Re-enforce Obamacare, or do nothing. We appear to be headed for the do nothing choice. It just may be the worst. Your tax dollars at work.

Vince Stone

Martinsville

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