Rich and proud tea party Representative Steve Daines says he’s fighting hard to protect Montanans, and all Americans, from the scourges of Obamacare. What does that mean? Who will suffer? To what lengths will Daines go to achieve this?
As to lengths, Daines is willing to shut down our federal government. Remember last October when he and fellow tea plotters shut the government down for 16 days? The cost: A mere $20 billion, or about $300 for every family of four in the US. The shutdown held us hostage to the ransom demands of “Shutdown Daines” and fellow extremists: Either repeal or defund Obamacare, or else. This terrorist-type tactic was one Republicans admittedly knew would fail, as documents released proved. But why not let Americans and our economy suffer to show you mean business?
Clearly, Shutdown Daines and other tea radicals are willing to use harmful measures to abolish Obamacare—to “protect us” from Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Outright repeal is the holy gospel for Daines and every Congressional Republican, and has been for years.
But what if they’re successful?
More disturbing and damaging than Republicans’ repeal tactics is the horrible fallout repeal would have on Americans. I’ve been talking to friends, family, and neighbors—in and out of Montana, of all political persuasions—to gauge the successes and failures of Obamacare. What I got was a real life snapshot of how Obamacare, in sum, has been a very good thing—often a true blessing.
On the negative side, there was near-unanimous dismay and frustration over Obamacare’s botched healthcare.gov rollout. A small minority saw a significant rate hike in their premiums. A few people thought Obamacare accomplished too little malpractice reform; many felt the ACA didn’t go far enough in containing healthcare costs—the major driver of federal deficits and debt, given the aging population and disproportionately high healthcare inflation rates. Some Republican-oriented folks were disappointed the ACA didn’t adopt more conservative ideas, though they recognized Obamacare’s based on the conservative Heritage Foundation’s template, was basically a Republican alternative to “HillaryCare” in the early 1990’s, and was co-opted by Romney in Massachusetts. One astute deficit hawk admitted that Obamacare will lead to a $138 billion reduction in our federal deficit in 10 years, and $1.2 trillion deficit reduction in the following decade, while extending Medicare’s solvency by at least nine years, and reducing the healthcare inflation rate.
Nearly everyone I contacted who buys private insurance saw a dramatic reduction in their premiums. For them, as with me and my wife, health insurance is finally affordable. By purchasing through state health exchanges, and receiving eligible credits based on income, folks can use the savings to do more wellness care, or afford seeing the long overdue dentist or eye doctor. Others used the savings to make car or home mortgage payments, add to their savings or retirement accounts, or simply be more active consumers.
Every senior I contacted, who’s unlucky enough to use prescription drugs, is saving $hundreds/year on their meds, as the Part D drug doughnut hole is quickly closing under Obamacare. For seniors on limited incomes, this savings is a Godsend, giving them peace of mind, and allowing them to pay for their meds, heating bills, and groceries; not just one or two necessities. They all valued the cost-free annual physical to catch problems before they become expensive, debilitating sicknesses.
Similarly, everyone is eligible for a cost-free annual exam and other preventive services, such as colonoscopies (age 50 up).
I’ve got a friend in her early 50s, mother of three, who took advantage of the free colonoscopy last January. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. She had no symptoms. She’s received treatment and is doing better. The cancer was discovered only because of the new services covered under the ACA. She’s a Republican but thanks Obamacare.
My wife and I know many folks with children under 26. Like millions of others, nearly all utilize Obamacare’s provision allowing young adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance.
The other day at the doctor’s I asked the receptionist how things were going since the January 1st rollout. “Running smoothly,” she said. The only significant change was a good one—many more clients now had insurance for the first time.
This is what Obamacare’s about—more accessible, affordable healthcare and insurance; greater emphasis on prevention, cost containment, accountability, and personal responsibility.
So I ask… No, I must demand, that Rep. Daines and other extremist Republicans stop their threats, hostage taking, and ransom demands, in pursuit of their unwise, uncaring attempt to abolish Obamacare. We don’t need “protection” from Obamacare—we need protection from rich, out-of-touch saboteurs like Shutdown Daines who are willing to put our health and finances in jeopardy—as long as they’re safe, sound, and healthy.
Van P. Keele