Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Saturday, December 15th, 2018.


Republicans: Hoist by Their Own Petard?

Trump Maladministration

Democrats are famous for forming circular firing squads, but I’m not sure there’s a name for the exercised in self-destruction Republicans have been engaged in this year. The closest I can come is Shakespeare’s “hoist with his own petard,” which apparently refers to a bomb-maker being blown up by his own bomb.

The latest bomb is that a federal judge in Texas just ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. There was a time that the entire Republican party would be celebrating that result. Now they’re probably quietly hoping the Supreme Court will save their asses and toss out the lower court decision.

Eztra Klein writes,

The Texas ruling finding the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional is ludicrous in its reasoning and unlikely to survive appeal. It argues, in short, that since Congress removed the penalty from the individual mandate, the individual mandate is no longer a tax; because the individual mandate is not a tax, it is no longer constitutional; and if the mandate is no longer constitutional, the entire law must be judged unconstitutional.

To do anything else would be, of course, immodest. As Judge Reed O’Connor writes, courts “are not tasked with, nor are they suited to, policymaking.” Yes, he is literally writing that as he tries to overturn Obamacare with a stroke of his pen. You can almost hear the “lol” he must’ve deleted from the first draft.

“If you were ever tempted to think that right-wing judges weren’t activist — that they were only ‘enforcing the Constitution’ or ‘reading the statute’ — this will persuade you to knock it off,” wrote law professor Nicholas Bagley. “This is insanity in print, and it will not stand up on appeal.”

Well, on a sane planet it would not stand up on appeal. In a nation that would put Beer Bong Bret on the Supreme Court, who knows?

This was, of course, the ruling on the lawsuit brought by a number of right-wing state secretaries of state to end the ACA, which at the time must have seemed like clever politics. Now, not so much. Along with Trump’s border policies, health care was one of the issues that got House Republicans killed in the suburbs. “Hoise by their own petard” sounds about right.

 Imagine a world where Judge O’Connor’s ruling is upheld. In that world, a Republican judge cuts tens of millions of people off health insurance mere weeks after Republicans lost a midterm election for merely trying to cut those people off health insurance. The aftermath of that would be a political massacre for the GOP, and a straightforward mandate for Democrats to rebuild the health system along the lines they prefer.

Preexisting conditions, anyone? Colby Itkowitz writes for WaPo,

The big question facing Republicans tonight is whether they will support legislation ensuring people with preexisting conditions continue to receive equitable health insurance coverage. Throughout the campaign, Democrats pointed out the hypocrisy of Republicans supporting the lawsuit while also telling voters preexisting conditions protections would be preserved. The problem with that promise is that Congress has not put in place any safeguards or contingencies for those protections in the event the law gets overturned.

I can’t find it now, but before the midterms one Republican idea I heard about to encourage insurance companies to sell policies to pre-existing conditions is to allow them to deny coverage for the pre-existing condition but cover everything else. Yeah, that’s work. And there’s this one:

Hawley says everyone would get insurance at roughly the same price with the same coverage. He goes on to say: “The federal government would then pay for insurance costs that exceed, say, $10,000. And the insurers, in turn, would be required to give most of the premiums they collect from these patients to the government.”

The Hawley campaign says that means the federal government would pay premium costs “above a certain threshold” for patients with pre-existing conditions. It says that will keep premium costs low.

But that also means insurance companies would be getting a taxpayer-financed federal subsidy to cover those patients. Hawley’s answer? Require insurers to send premiums back to Washington.

I’m not the sharpest tack in the box when it comes to numbers, but … that makes no sense to me. Does it make sense to you? Why is it not just saying that sicker people will be paying their premiums to the government which then would pay them to the insurance company? What would that accomplish? How does that keep cost down?

The quick-and-easier solution to the demise of the ACA would be to allow people with preexisting conditions and who are turned down for insurance to buy into the Medicare program or be covered under Medicaid. Nice way to expand the idea of Medicare for all, seems to me. Republicans won’t support that, though.

After all these years, it’s obvious Republicans will never, ever come up with a health care plan that does want they want health care to do — allow the health care and health insurance industries to price gouge and deny coverage to maximize their profits while also satisfying voters they are getting a good deal. Ain’t ever gonna happen. No way, no how.

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