Folks, let me begin by saying I am not a doctor, insurance salesman, or a healthcare professional. I am not someone who has personally come under the Affordable Care Act provisions. I have always come under a group coverage provided by my wife’s employment for my personal healthcare coverage. So there is much about the current healthcare laws I do not understand. Now that I have described to you my shortcomings, let me say some things I THINK I understand about what happened in Congress this week.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The House passed a replacement for the Affordable Care Act this week. One of the major parts of this legislation was to remove one trillion dollars worth of taxes that Americans will pay over the next ten years. The taxes is on all sorts of things that are unrelated to healthcare such as a real estate tax on property sold. There was also a tax on medical equipment and artificial joints, etc. This savings is needed for the upcoming tax reform package that will be introduced in the near future. I do not understand where all this tax money was to be used. Sometimes I think the money is for other purposes, but when it was first passed, I remember that the money was needed to make ObamaCare work.
The Republicans worked their House membership to reach the 216 votes needed for passage. Everyone from the House Leadership to President Trump worked the membership to ensure passage. They reached their goal and even had an extra vote for the measure.
The Democrats worked their membership just as hard or harder to be sure there would be no Democrat votes for the bill. The House Democrats have let it be known that they will never supply a vote for anything Donald Trump tries to do. The Democrat Leadership was seen celebrating their success in making the Republicans pass the legislation without any Democrat help.
The Republicans are touting this bill as saving healthcare in places like Iowa where there is reportedly only one insurance company offering coverage and they are showing such large losses that they are withdrawing from the state. This is a familiar story over many states. In other regions, the single company offering coverage have been approved rate increases to ridicules numbers like premiums of $1,500 a month for coverage (Arizona) with a requirement they pay the first $10,000 of healthcare costs before the insurance companies pay a percentage of bills above that level.
THE U.S. SENATE
Now the bill moves to the U.S. Senate for their action. Already, there are comments coming from Republican Senators that the House bill is “dead on arrival.” The Senate works in mysterious ways. These folks will pass their own version of the legislation, and then the two chambers of Congress will join together to reach a compromise acceptable to all. The Republicans are in several different camps, conservatives, moderates, etc., that all want their version to become law.
The Democrats have a different problem. They have members up for re-election in 2018 who come from states where Donald Trump won. The Dems in the Senate will work to keep those who support a Trump legislative bill to a minimum. They will use every trick in the book to keep support for the Republican legislation to as small a number as possible. Their arm twisting will try to keep all Democrats in line and voting no on any bill that comes up for a vote.
The Republicans only have 52 members in the Senate so in order to pass any legislation, they need every group. The moderates and the conservatives must agree on all the wording or the Democrats might win. The Democrats will use all their influence to provide zero votes for a new healthcare bill. They really don’t care if the current system fails as long as no Democrat supports a Trump bill. In that case, ObamaCare will remain the law of the land.
One item we must all keep in mind. This legislation does not directly change healthcare. It changes the insurance we all must buy for protection. Healthcare dollars effect the care by forcing people to not seek care because of high deductibles or the cost of premiums. The new proposed legislation should reduce this. With government writing all the rules, and designating the costs paid by the consumers, government controls the entire system.
President Donald Trump is trying to reduce this control through the free market system. We should all wish him success.