Saturday, March 09, 2013

GOP Schizophrenia On Health Care Reform

At times I wonder if some of the GOP leadership suffers from schizophrenia.  On the one hand we have Marco Rubio ranting that a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year must include provisions to defund Obamacare in its entirety.  Meanwhile, a group of top House Republicans have written a letter to President Obama asking him to preserve a temporary program included in the law that provides health care coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.  Obviously, one cannot have it both ways.  Here's what Rubio was saying during an interview via Think Progress:

Rubio parroted the usual litany of wild — and widely debunked — conservative hysteria about the dire consequences that Obamcare will have on American businesses and the U.S. health care industry, asserting that he would only vote to avert a government shutdown if Obamcare implementation is halted completely:

HEWITT: Senator Rubio, the continuing resolution is headed your way. How is this stacking up as Act III of the spending drama?

RUBIO: Well first of all, I don’t think anyone is in favor of shutting down the government, but I think that’s where we’re headed ultimately here, unfortunately, if we don’t fix our debt problem… But here’s what I’ve said about this continuing resolution. Senator Cruz from Texas is offering this amendment to defund Obamacare. If that gets onto the bill, in essence, if they get a continuing resolution and we can get a vote on that and pass that onto the bill, I’ll vote for a continuing resolution, even if it’s temporary, because it does something permanent, and that’s defund this health care bill, this Obamacare bill, that is going to be an absolute disaster for the American economy.
One can only assume that Rubio has not bothered to have a chat with his GOP compatriots in the House of Representatives where something quite different is underway.  Think Progress reports this:

In another sign of the growing political support for health reform — or the sense that opposing its most popular elements has become politically perilous — a group of top House Republicans have written a letter to President Obama asking him to preserve a temporary program included in the law that provides health care coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The so-called Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was designed as a bridge to the exchanges for families and individuals who don’t have an offer of coverage from an employer and cannot find insurance in the individual market. The $5 billion program, which covers only sick people is incredibly costly, and will soon stop processing new applicants. 

Republicans however, are incensed, and are demanding that the White House shift funds from prevention or comparative effectiveness research to keep the PCIP running. 

“Your administration’s action will leave thousands of Americans with pre-existing conditions without access to health care,” the group of House Republicans write in a letter first obtained by the Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur. The letter reiterates the GOP’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act as a whole but notes, “to allow PCIP to continue to accept new enrollees, we urge you to support efforts to transfer the funds necessary from other PPACA programs, such as the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the Secretary’s transfer authority to assist with state based exchanges, comparative effectiveness, planning, or another similar program to PCIP.”

 The letter to Obama was signed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Energy & Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX).
The truth is that this country desperately needs health care reform and the reality is that the Affordable Health Care Act went nowhere near far enough in fixing the problem.   I for one support a single payer program because nothing else is going to rein in exploding hearth care costs - my firm heath plan premiums are going up over 11% even though we have had no major claims filed - and end the monopoly games being played by hospital systems.

The other irony is that the House GOP leaders are suddenly worried about those with pre-existing conditions while seeking to kill Obamacare and leave millions totally uninsured.  For a political party that claims to so supportive of Christian values, kicking millions to the curb as disposable garbage is the height of hypocrisy.

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