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Republicans Feign Concern about Health of ACA

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In a shocking turn of events, Republicans now care about whether Americans have health insurance!

It happened quite suddenly. The moment can be precisely pinpointed. It occurred early in the day of Oct. 1 when the media declared the launch of the Affordable Care Act website a fiasco.

Bam! Presto change-o! The GOP saw an opportunity and seized it, no matter that it required complete reversal of the party’s previous policy position. Congressional Republicans railed and ranted about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Affordable Care Act website denying Americans the ability to sign up for health insurance. Not only that, the GOPers cried, some insurance companies were cancelling the policies of some constituents!

Before this miraculous transformation, the GOP had for years fought all attempts to provide health insurance to the 47 million Americans without it. Not one Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will extend coverage to 25 million Americans. Then House Republicans voted 46 times to cripple or kill the law.

Republican lawmakers in 22 states refused the ACA’s Medicaid expansion that would have enabled 5 million of those states’ residents to get coverage.  Republicans shut down the government for 16 days in a failed attempt to defund the ACA. And Republicans created the “burn your Obamacare card” campaign to persuade young people to pay fines and risk bankruptcy and death by refusing ACA health insurance.

But that’s all over. Presto change-o! Now Republicans want Americans – including young people ­– to get health insurance! They’re outraged, really OUTRAGED, that the faulty ACA exchange website is making it difficult for Americans to buy insurance. They’re doubly outraged that insurance companies have cancelled the policies of some constituents because, apparently, they think Americans can only purchase insurance on the exchanges and not the way they’ve previously always bought it – directly from insurance companies.

“My constituents are frightened,” announced U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, “They are being forced out of health care plans they like. The clock is ticking. The federal website is broken.  Their health care isn’t a glitch.”

That is true! Health care is important to Texans who can afford to buy their own plans! Republicans like Brady believe, however, that health insurance is not important at all for the 1 million low-income Texans who would have qualified for it under the ACA Medicaid expansion  – the expansion that the Texas GOP refused to accept, thus denying low-income people coverage.

That’s quite a glitch for low-income residents of the state that likes boasting about its big stuff –  like its record of being number one in the country for the highest rate of uninsured people!

Brady claims to be very, very angry that the website is faulty. But a faulty federal website is exactly what he and other Republicans wanted. They did everything they could to ensure that’s what happened.

If they wanted to improve the likelihood that their constituents would get a smooth-operating system, they could have set up their own state-based exchange websites. Kentucky did that, and its site is being held up as a model for what the federal site could be once it’s repaired. Similarly, there have been few complaints from residents of the 12 other states that established their own exchanges.

Usually, Republicans are all for states’ rights. They hate centralized, federal power. But not in this case! That’s because they knew the more states that piled into the federal exchange, the more crushing the demand and the more likely something would go buggy. And that’s exactly what they got! Thirty-six states rebuffed the opportunity for local autonomy, and Republicans got what they wanted – something else to complain about, even if that means they’re whining that their constituents can’t get the very insurance that Republicans never wanted them to get anyway.