By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, July 19, 2017, US Representative Martha Roby (R-Alabama) reacted to the Senate’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare and chastised the Senate, saying that despite differing opinions and solutions, the Senate needs to come together to deliver results for the American people.
Congresswoman Roby said in her videotaped message, “I am very disappointed to hear about the breakdown in the Senate over the health care bill, but I was pleased to hear the President is encouraging the Senate to stay and get their work done. The House has done its job, and now it is time for the Senate to roll up their sleeves and get to work.”
Roby added, “Doing nothing is not an option. Obamacare is crumbling all around us and we have to keep our promise to the American people to repeal this law and replace it with policy that makes sense.”
In May, the House passed the American Health Care Act, which was the first of a proposed three-step Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Instead of simply passing the House plan, the Senators insisted on making this more complicated by writing their own bill from scratch, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Both extremes in the Senate Republican Caucus disliked this and efforts to pass that legislation in the Senate have stalled.
No Democrats have reached across the aisle to support any of the plans, preferring gridlock to any bipartisan approach.
The Senate is now considering a plan to simply repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare); but three GOP moderates defected and publicly announced they would not vote for that either. The impasse prompted President Donald J. Trump to call Republican Senators to the White House in an effort to revive the bill’s chances.
Pres. Trump had a frank discussion with the squabbling Republican Senators. Trump said, “For seven years you promised the American people that you would repeal Obamacare.” “People are hurting. Inaction is not an option. And frankly I don’t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan.”
Most conservatives despise Obamacare and would simply like to see the Legislation repealed in its entirety. The problem with that is that all the old plans were made illegal by Obamacare and they don’t exist anymore.
One of the biggest hurdle is the controversial expansion of Medicaid. 31 states accepted the Obama administration’s request that they dramatically increase their Medicaid roles. When President Barack H. Obama (D) came in office, Medicaid insured 50 million poor seniors, nursing home patients, children, the disabled, and pregnant moms. Medicaid expansion added just about every other poor person. That and the anemic economic recovery swelled the ranks of the Medicaid ranks from 50 million to 73 million. Repeal would mean that as many as 23 million Medicaid beneficiaries would suddenly not have insurance.
Obamacare has led to dramatically increased rates for insurance; millions of Americans however get their care paid for at least in part by government subsidies. If the subsidies went away and those lower middle class families suddenly had to pay the true cost of coverage many would drop the coverage. Obamacare also outlawed pre-existing conditions. If the old Obamacare policies went away, insurers would likely choose not to insure the unhealthiest customers. Without a government subsidized high risk pool or similar plan some people could find themselves unable to buy coverage at any price. Then there is the requirements that insurers had to cover children through age 26. People without children will likely choose newer cheaper plans that are not hamstrung by that onerous requirement. A lot of employers could opt for new coverage that ends coverage of children at 22 or even 19. Some young adults could be forced off of their parents’ coverage. If people who are buying the coverage only because it is the law drop the coverage; then that raises the number of the uninsured as well. Some employers may drop the coverage if the employer mandate goes away. Nobody knows how many consumers would choose to opt out of coverage or how many will have their coverage dropped or how easy or hard it will be to find new coverage; but the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that that number could be as high as 32 million.
Some Republican Senators who have campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare have suddenly gotten fearful of action on the plan due to the possibility of a backlash from consumers and healthcare providers.
Proponents of simply repealing the legislation point out that there 281 insurance companies on the exchange in 2016. That number dropped to 227 in 2017 and will plummet to 141 by 2018 and millions of Americans will see their rates increase as healthy people continue to leave the coverage leaving the shrinking insurance pools increasingly unhealthy, making the insurance companies raise the rates. In the insurance industry this death spiral of a pool of insurance is termed adverse selection.
Senator Luther Strange (R) has repeatedly said that Obamacare is on a “death spiral.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.
(Original reporting by Fox News, the Washington Post, CNN, and Mark Levine contributed to this post)