WASHINGTON, March 25, 2016 — Both President Trump and the Republican Congress were elected because they convinced America that things had to change. High on the list of things that had to change was healthcare.
For seven years, Republicans told us that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a disaster and we agreed. We gave them a majority in Congress in 2010, and then the presidency. They just let us down.
Shame on them.
There is no doubt that the ACA, in its current state, is failing. Prior to the GOP’s failure to reach consensus on a replacement, most Americans were strongly behind them. Then they argued among themselves in a manner that didn’t suggest a consensus outcome, leaving people to wonder, “maybe the ACA is not so bad after all.”
Any way that this is spun, this week was a failure and a broken promise to the American people, and it did not have to be that way. Both Congress and Trump let us down. President Trump because he assured us he is the best negotiator, who knows how to compromise and reach consensus.
He said that an ACA replacement would pass.
Most frustrating is the GOP’s inability to bring some Democrats on board. Leading Democrats and leading Republicans claim similar goals: to offer coverage to all Americans; reduce the cost of health insurance; reduce the cost of prescription drugs and improve the quality of care. The parties have differences on how to pay for healthcare and who should pay, but the goals are the same.
A truly skilled negotiator should have been able to find consensus. Did the President meet his match against an intransigent Republican Congress unwilling to work together while the Democrats laugh gleefully.
The root of the divide lies in the payment of subsidies and universal coverage. Conservative Republicans know how subsidies grow to entitlements which grow rapidly in cost. Both Social Security and Medicare were originally meant to pay for retirement living and medical expenses during retirement.
Both have grown to dominate the federal budget.
When Social Security was pitched to Americans, it was funded with a maximum 3 percent tax on wages. The retirement age was 65 and life expectancy was only 67, so people would collect for an average of two years. It would not be a costly program and would provide comfort to all Americans because they would have no fear of being old with no means to care for themselves.
Medicare and Medicaid were pitched in the same manner. They were supposed to be limited programs paid to individuals for a relatively short period of time. Now they consume about half of the government’s $4 trillion budget.
That’s $2 trillion, just for this year.
Conservatives fear that healthcare could become another enormous entitlement, perhaps eventually consuming another 20 percent of the budget. That would lead to more deficit spending, more government debt and greater burdens on future generations.
This is especially worrisome since Americans are living to be 85 and beyond, while retiring at 66.
Even without considering the effects of a health care entitlement, it is impossible for people to work for 45 years, then collect Social Security and Medicare benefits for the next 40 years.
Conservatives don’t want to add another problem on top of this one.
Despite mixed feelings about the ACA, Americans are compassionate; most want to see health insurance available to everyone. They believe there should be a way to reduce the cost of healthcare and offer universal coverage. They hoped that a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president would find a way to make this work.
They didn’t. Now we are stuck with a system which is collapsing. Americans will soon be hurting because of the Republicans’ inability to compromise among themselves, let alone with the Democrats.
They should be ashamed.