Republicans may have prevailed in their latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, but it’s nothing but another political stunt.
It’s the same old story from Republicans: Do everything possible to make government look dysfunctional in an effort to dismantle it.
On Thursday, a federal judge struck down a portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ruling that President Obama overstepped his authority in funding a provision of the law that sent billions of dollars in subsidies to health insurers.
The same judge put the ruling on hold, pending an appeal from the Obama administration, which is certain to come. So there will be no immediate effect, despite Twitter trolls proclaiming with complete ignorance that the ACA, or Obamacare, has been defunded.
Obamacare has not been defunded, and tax subsidies that help consumers pay for insurance remain in place despite the ruling. What is in jeopardy are payments to insurers that help them keep out-of-pocket costs low for consumers. Insurance industry experts have voiced concerns that taking away these payments to insurers — the very corporations Republicans usually support — will ultimately drive up insurance rates. Despite some insurers claiming that they are losing money by being in the ACA marketplace, none of them are going under. Many others have reaffirmed their commitment to selling policies through the marketplace.
Experts agree the ruling is almost certainly not enough to bring down the law. But the ruling, even if it’s overturned, will create short-term uncertainty in the marketplace, just when insurers are setting rates for 2017. If Republicans want to claim that the cost of insurance plans are still to high under Obamacare during the 2016 election cycle, they only have themselves to blame. (Well, along with insurance companies who still aren’t doing enough to lower rates, but that’s another story.)
Not only are House Republicans creating havoc in the free market they typically fall all over themselves to endorse by meddling with insurers, they may also drive up Obamacare’s cost to government, which will have to pick up the financial slack if the ruling is upheld.
This is all a familiar strategy from Republicans: Take outrageous steps to obstruct or cripple government programs, then scream bloody murder that government is broken. Even though they’re the ones creating the dysfunction, they’ll then try to convince Americans that they are the only ones who can come to the rescue. This, despite the fact that Republicans have not put forward a single reasonable proposal to replace Obamacare if it were repealed that doesn’t put undue financial and health risks on the people who need insurance the most, such as those with chronic conditions and low-income people.
Oh, and by the way: Taxpayers are footing the bill for this lawsuit — which is unprecedented. Congress has never tried to sue the Executive Branch in the history of this country.
For House Speaker Paul Ryan to claim that this ruling is “…an historic win for the Constitution and the American people” because “the court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives” is ludicrous.
The American people — including the 20 million Americans now covered under the ACA, most at lower costs — never asked the U.S. House of Representatives to put forward a lawsuit at our expense. But instead of working together to find ways to improve on Obamacare, House Republicans would much rather try to find a way to burn it down, without any concern for the cost to Americans’ finances and lives.
[Photo credit: Chris Savage | Eclectablog]