To restore something to a former position, or put something new in the place of an existing thing is referred to as replacing. Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law, Republicans began parroting their mantra of “repeal and replace” to convince ignorant Americans that Republicans have a plan to help them meet their healthcare needs that is far and above superior to the ACA. As conservatives, Republicans are notorious for ferociously defending the status quo and resisting change, especially if change involves helping the majority of Americans. During the healthcare (insurance) reform debate, Republican legislators insisted they preferred small incremental changes to the way insurance provides healthcare to Americans and after two years of careful consideration, they have decided to replace the ACA with nothing and eliminate Medicare to keep more Americans sick just to enrich the insurance industry.
It is no secret Republicans want to return to the dysfunctional healthcare industry atrocities the ACA corrects, and many Americans are not intelligent enough to comprehend that their choice is not between the ACA and a better Republican plan, but the new healthcare law or no healthcare coverage whatsoever. Under the Republicans’ non-plan, tens-of-millions of Americans face the prospect of never having healthcare coverage, and for the privileged few who can afford health insurance, they are at the mercy of insurance providers who can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, exceeding providers’ lifetime limits, and be dropped for using their healthcare insurance.
At one point, Republicans floated the idea that allowing consumers to buy their healthcare insurance across state lines was better than real reform. The ACA already allows that but Republicans object to minimum standards states must abide by and they intend to remove those standards to protect the insurance industry. The GOP would give state policy makers the power to tell insurers that if they establish their base in a particular state, healthcare rules would be written in the industry’s favor. Obviously, the industry would migrate to the state with the least oversight and fewest restrictions that would leave all consumers with only one choice much like the credit card industry. In 2005, the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the Republican plan and they concluded that the proposal increased the cost of coverage for people expected to have higher healthcare costs (seniors, children, and the sick) and decreased the number of sick individuals who could afford insurance.
The Republican objection to setting minimum standards is opposition to federal regulations and if there is anything they will not tolerate, it is government regulations that protect consumers. However, Republicans are not satisfied restricting access to decent affordable healthcare for millions of Americans, they are on pace to eliminate millions of low-income Americans, seniors, and children’s access to any healthcare by severely limiting access to Medicare and Medicaid, and they have been relentless in portraying the poor and seniors as leeches on society to engender opposition to safety nets and the health law. Republicans do not believe healthcare is right and they were successful in convincing their supporters that the ACA is robbing them of their hard-earned money and their freedom.
Last week while the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the Affordable Care Acts’ constitutionality, protestors opposed to the law expressed their hostility in three words; “I support freedom.” When the protestors were asked what freedom the ACA was robbing them of, they parroted themselves and reiterated that they support freedom. The freedom they support is freedom to wallow in sickness, disease, and injury if patient protections in the ACA are eliminated, and it is regardless their ability to afford private insurance coverage that providers will deny with impunity despite their presumption of privilege in affording healthcare coverage. The least opponents of the health law could do is be honest and admit that they support the insurance industry’s freedom to deny healthcare to all Americans, and that they agree with Republicans that good health is a privilege reserved for those fortunate to afford it.
Republicans have no intention of replacing the ACA and, in fact, are placing more Americans at risk of suffering ill-health unless they are extremely wealthy. Their only goal is protecting the insurance industry from the ACA’s patient protections and their vote to eliminate Medicare and funding to assist low-income, poor, and retired Americans is proof positive that they intend to drive more Americans into despair with no hope of ever having healthcare coverage much less good health. They knew they would never replace the ACA, and instead of returning to the status quo, their support of the Ryan budget means going far beyond the inequities of the old system and instead are putting millions of Americans at risk of never having any healthcare that was their goal all along. It is important to remember that throughout the healthcare reform debate, Republicans parroted their dyed-in-the-wool belief that healthcare is not a right all Americans should enjoy, but a privilege for the few who can afford it. Hopefully, if the ACA is ruled unconstitutional, the first recipients of denial of coverage are those vile human beings who oppose the law on the basis of freedom because the only freedom Republicans are giving them is the freedom to lose their coverage and with no Medicare safety net, they will be free to wallow in sickness and eventually die. That is, after all, what Republicans are replacing the Affordable Care Act with; death by illness and Republican contempt.