Opinion: The cynicism behind health-care sabotage


Open enrollment for Obamacare coverage begins Nov. 1, and already experts are warning of trouble. After years of decline, the number of uninsured has begun to rise, and as many as 1.6 million additional Americans will drop out of the program in 2018, many because they will no longer be able to afford it, according to Wall Street analyst S&P Global.

The Trump administration deserves much of the blame — or in their own eyes, the credit. They have slashed the number of “navigators” hired to answer questions and help people through the enrollment process, they have slashed the number of hours that the federal website is functional, they have slashed the enrollment period itself in half, they have slashed the program’s outreach and advertising budget, and they have forced insurance companies to dramatically increase the rates they charge, with some companies abandoning the market altogether.

In short, they have used every administrative tool at their disposal to sabotage the program and to increase doubt among insurers and insured, and to some degree it appears to be working.

They have also continued to block every effort to fix the problem. Last month, for example, a group of Republican and Democratic senators hammered out a compromise that would address the rate-increase problem, and they claimed to have enough votes to pass it. However, President Trump quickly shot the plan down and House Speaker Paul Ryan said that if the Senate did pass it, he would refuse to allow his chamber to even vote on it. That ended that.

Shortly thereafter, Trump’s super PAC released a new TV ad, condemning Democrats for refusing to work with the president to fix health care.

Theoretically, you could try to defend such cynical sabotage if Republicans had a plan of their own that they wanted to implement. As we all have witnessed, they do not. They can destroy, but not build, and voters are noticing. In fact, with years of GOP health-care promises now exposed as fraudulent, Americans are increasingly likely to embrace Obamacare and to want it improved rather than destroyed. In the latest Fox News poll, 54 percent now say they have a favorable opinion of Obamacare, with just 42 percent unfavorable. That’s a 16-point improvement since March of 2015.

Unfortunately, the sabotage effort has been particularly successful here in Georgia, where Republican state officials have been trying to undermine the program since its inception. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only two states have a higher uninsured rate than Georgia, and health-insurance rates for individuals on the benchmark “silver plans” have risen an average of 48 percent this year, well above the national average.

Then there’s the rural health-care crisis, the opioid epidemic and the question of Medicaid expansion. Mortality rates in rural communities have risen significantly, which is astonishing in a modern industrialized country, and rural hospitals are being forced to close for want of customers able to pay for treatment. Those hospitals are a major economic driver in their own rights, and without them, communities also have little chance of attracting other employers.

As other states have discovered, Medicaid expansion could help break that cycle. By increasing the number of paying customers, it has kept rural hospitals open and saved precious jobs. It has also provided treatment to men and women addicted to opioids or methamphetamine. But the odds of Georgia Republicans approving expansion in the 2018 Legislature, with many in leadership facing primary challenges, look slim.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

READERS WRITE: APR. 27

Climate’s change degrading South our kids will inhabit Growing up in the South, I inherited a belief in the goodness of Creation. Everyone in my life system encouraged the climbing of trees and the catching of critters. There was even a stigma to staying indoors and leaving the wild world unexplored, the grasshoppers uncaught, the fireflies un-chased...
Opinion: Frat video exposes crumbling decency in society

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. — Courage isn’t required to condemn the Syracuse University chapter of the Theta Tau fraternity for simulating a sexual assault on a disabled student. Video of this ape-ish display, now in wide circulation, should horrify anyone with an ounce of decency. That is, assuming people still recall what decency is. After the...
Opinion: America’s unsustainable empire

Before President Trump trashes the Iran nuclear deal, he might consider: If he could negotiate an identical deal with Kim Jong Un, it would astonish the world and win him the Nobel Peace Prize. For Iran has no nuclear bomb or ICBM and has never tested either. It has cameras inside and inspectors crawling all over its nuclear facilities. And North Korea?...
Opinion: Macron on Trumpism — Non!

WASHINGTON — The early story line about President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron focused on their “bromance” and Trump’s puerile claim to dominance when he brushed what he said was dandruff off Macron’s suit. But on the last day of his state visit on Wednesday, Macron showed he will not be trifled with. He...
READERS WRITE: APR. 26

Financial hole dug by too-low millage rate Senior centers, libraries and the Cobb County parking garage are charging fees and/or cutting services. Cobb is $30 million to $50 million in the hole. Cobb’s pension fund is $500 million in the hole. How did Cobb get in this situation? It’s not the recession. I found the answer when I reached...
More Stories