Could Rand Paul Save Obamacare?

By John Thorsson

The TEA party’s rise to power in 2009-2010 was something to behold for those who followed it closely. It was, at the time, a mix of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats who where tired of executive overreach. It was a group of people, who wanted to see the budget balanced, limited government restored, and our national deficit paid down. They campaigned on the promise of doing everything in their power to undo the Affordable Care Act. One of the people swept up in the wave election of 2010 was Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Now, with a chance to fulfill that campaign promise from so many years ago, and do what you’d expect a libertarian to do, he could be the man who stands between Obamacare remaining the law of the land or being replaced.

Just this past July, Republicans made numerous attempts to pass legislation that would repeal and replace the healthcare law signed back during President Obama’s first term and they all failed. From that wreckage, a bill that was originally supposed to be an amendment is the last hope the Republicans have of making good on their six-year promise to fix the healthcare system in a way that they deem fit. The bill was written by Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller and Ron Johnson. Before wading into Senator Paul, let’s take a quick look at what the law will actually do:

  • The individual mandate would be eliminated. However, the bill would allow states to reinstate it or create one of their own. The employer mandate would also be eliminated.
  • The provision that allows children to remain on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 would remain intact.
  • The subsidies that were in the ACA would be eliminated, and in its place the states could use block grant money to subsidize things themselves.
  •  Cost-sharing subsidies would be grandfathered out by the year 2020. However, states could use their block grant money to fund cost.
  • The ban of insurance companies not covering people with pre-existing conditions would be largely unchanged. The only major difference would be that states would give insurance companies the choice to not cover the costs of certain conditions.
  • The ACA said that insurers could charge older customers up to three times what they charged younger ones. The proposed bill changed that to five times on older customers compared to younger ones. But again, it gives the states the right to overrule it if they choose to do so.
  • The law tries to make Health Saving Accounts more attractive to people, by allowing them to invest more than the $3,400 for an individual or the $6,750 that was under the ACA.
  • Whereas the ACA didn’t create high-risk pools because of the protections on pre-existing conditions; Graham-Cassidy set up a temporary fund for insurers who lose money for taking big risks. It would be an amount of $155 billion to be used between 2018-2020.
  • Medicaid would change and be funded by giving states a per capita amount starting in 2020.
  • The ACA said that states could expand Medicaid, to cover people making 138 percent above the poverty line and the federal government would be responsible for paying a majority of those costs. The bill being looked at now says that if a a state expands Medicaid further, the government is responsible for less of the costs.
  • The ACA required insurers to cover what was considered to be essential health benefits. These included regular doctor visits and mental-health care. The Graham-Cassidy bill changes things a bit, by allowing each state to determine what it considers to be essential health. This would also change the cap on annual or lifetime coverage.

This a lot of what conservatives have wanted for years. It reduces the role of the federal government, and gives a lot of the power over healthcare to the state level. Yet, it wasn’t enough for Mr. Paul. He brazenly insisted that this deal is 90% of Obamacare, and because of that he can’t support it. When Mr. Cassidy saw what Senator Paul said he offered to go over the bill with him so he could understand it better, but Mr. Paul had absolutely zero interest in being swayed or listening to anything that Mr. Cassidy had to say. As I said in an article earlier this week, differing of opinions and hearing differing opinions are fundamental to a functioning American government. One would think that a bright man like Rand Paul would understand that, but he’s letting so called principles get in the way of progress he’d actually like to see.

To bring this full circle, that’s the problem with too many members that came in with the TEA party wave and especially the House Freedom Caucus. They cannot be controlled, they do not negotiate, and they do not make the compromises necessary in order to govern effectively. They pushed out a politician’s politician in Former Speaker John Boehner, there’s been whispers of a revolt toward current Speaker Ryan. Unfortunately, the TEA party was a wonderful idea that has become a caricature itself, and it just may leave President Obama’s largest legislative achievement intact with nobody left to blame but themselves.

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