This won’t be a long piece nor is it complicated. It’s about the latest right wing talking point and how the Democrats ought to be responding. In case you’ve been in a coal mine for the last month, the media is saying: ‘President Obama lied when he said people that liked their health care plans could keep their health care plans.’ Depending on what news channel you turn to or what day you tune-in, the phrasing might be slightly different. Of course, what the president referred to was that nothing in the Affordable Health Care Act required people to change their health care plans. But that is not the right wing’s interpretation. They are saying he had given the country an absolute guarantee and he was lying.
A piece on Fox News was a recording of President Clinton saying “I never had sex with that woman,” and then the commentator claimed that President Obama’s comments were the same thing: a deliberate lie to deceive the American people. I saw Reince Priebus saying this issue was going to be the main focus of the Republican Party’s 2014 campaign. Reince also thought this issue was the reason Governor Cuccinelli was able to close the gap between himself and his opponent Terry McAuliffe. Reince was confident this issue would give the Republican Party the victory in 2014.
I have the answer. We need to destroy this particular meme. And it’s not too late. Here’s the strategy. First, the Democrats in the Senate need to take the lead. They should have the staff in their home districts begin to identify people who had hoped to keep their existing policies but whose insurance companies were cancelling the policies.
Next, they should sort those people by the companies cancelling the policies. Then, begin hearings bringing those insured’s before the Senate, starting with the company that has the largest number of people whose policies were canceled. My cursory inspection suggests it might be Aetna Insurance but wait to see where the most witnesses are. Let the insured complain loudly about how they were counting on keeping their policies but the policies were canceled. Sound very sympathetic. Let it go on for a few days. Next, subpoena the CEO’s of those companies and attack them brutally, much like the Republicans attacked Katherine Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. One question they should definitely ask, over and over, is “What section of the Affordable Care Act required you to cancel these poor people’s insurance health plan?”
At the end, every Democratic Senator should stand up and make a speech explaining how they found the loophole in the Affordable Care Act, a loophole that needs to be closed. After they are finished, they should call for a vote on a bill to close that loophole. The bill should be fairly complicated and the Republicans shouldn’t be given a whole lot of time to read it. The number of the bill should relate to the Affordable Health Care Act. Democrats should always refer to it as an amendment to the AHCA. What the bill will say, in essence, is that any insurance company cancelling a health insurance policy will reinstate that policy or the CEO and senior staff will spend one year in jail.
Yes, yes, I know, this legislation is a horrible bill. What this bill will do is insure a large group of people will end up with truly horrible insurance policies, policies with extremely high deductibles and clauses letting the insurance company release them in the event of a severe illness. Still, it should be passed. No longer will the problem of canceled policies be the fault of President Obama. Problem solved.
Is this an appropriate use of the United States Senate? Guaranteeing that people will continue to have sub-par insurance? Well, the House voted 40 times to repeal the AHCA without a prayer of getting the bill passed through the Senate, let alone being signed by the President. This is what the Congress has become. It is the least productive congress in the history of the United States. In the House, what they spend their time doing is investigating scandals. Fake scandals. The goal of the Republicans in the House is to promote votes from their base, that is, it’s all about politics. Nothing is going to pass both houses until the Democrats take back the House. To take back the House, the Senate needs to take a lesson from the House, a lesson in using that august body for political ends. This would work, ending the ability of the Republican Party to make their number one case for election the fact that insurance companies have canceled insurance policies.
Finally, governors of the states not producing their own call centers as described in the AHCA should be subpoenaed to testify as to why. They won’t come to testify but that’s fine. The point is to blame them for the problems with the websites. The people building the websites never imagined so many states would opt out. The Senate needs to blame those governors for the failures. It will be helpful to compare the results in states like New York, California and Kentucky with the states opting out.
This is just the start of the Senate investigations into the fake scandals the Republicans are investigating.
Post Script: As I was preparing this post and putting it on line, I heard President Bill Clinton and Speaker of the House John Boehner have essentially, come out with the same proposal. The significance of their agreement is that such a bill has an excellent chance of passing congress. If it passes, it would be the first step in a plan I have been considering for many years now. It seems the Republican base has been determined to find ways to take money from the poor and middle class and to put that money in the pockets of the super rich: Redistribution of the country’s wealth Republican style. This may be the first step. The people most likely to hang on to really bad insurance policies are precisely the Republican base. They won’t want to go to the government websites because they have been taught to hate “Obama Care.” Fine. This way, they can keep the policies producing extremely large profits for the insurance companies while
Democrats and independents will get much better policies. Perhaps we can use this as a model for other ways to get money from the Republican base and to give it to the super rich while leaving the rest of us out of the process. That will be a win-win all the way around.
It is even possible that some of the Republican base will realize the insurance policies they had before are an absolute disaster. It might take a major illness putting them into bankruptcy. Some might realize that, if they had had a better policy, it wouldn’t have happened. Next, they’d have to realize that if they went to one of the exchanges and got a better policy they wouldn’t necessarily have to tell anyone. They could keep it a secret and never have to admit that they had ‘signed up for Obama care.’ Who knows? Incredible things happen.