Human Behavior

There is definitely no logic to human behavior.

Obamacare is on the critical list

To get a real understanding of the major problem facing lawmakers in this year’s General Assembly session, you have to have been watching a town hall meeting televised on CNN last Thursday.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was fielding questions from the audience when a businessman from Arizona named Jeff Jeans challenged him about the ongoing effort by congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known unofficially as Obamacare.

Jeans described himself as a Republican who had worked on the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He said he did not like the ACA when it was passed in 2010. ” I told my wife we would close our business before I complied with this law,” he said.

But then, reality intervened.

Jeans lost his health insurance when his company filed for bankruptcy. He was subsequently diagnosed with throat cancer and was unable to get cancer treatments because he didn’t have health coverage.

His situation took a turn for the better when his wife was able to purchase an insurance policy for both of them through the ACA. That enabled him to get badly needed cancer treatments.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m standing here today alive,” Jeans told Ryan at the town hall. “Being both a small-business person and someone with preexisting conditions, I rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to purchase my own insurance. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?”

Despite the objections of Jeans and many other people, the Republicans who control the House and Senate are already holding votes to kill Obamacare, which has provided health insurance coverage for more than 20 million Americans like Jeans who were previously uninsured.

Initial votes were taken last week in both chambers to start the process of repealing the ACA. Georgia senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, as well as all of the state’s Republican House members, voted with their colleagues to get the ball rolling. The repeal process could be completed in just a few weeks, depending on how future votes go, and Donald Trump has repeatedly said he supports repeal.

Ryan and the GOP leadership claim that they will pass a replacement for Obamacare that won’t cost anybody their coverage, but that is, quite simply, a lie. Congressional Republicans have been unable to come up with an Obamacare replacement for seven years now, and even with a new president who won’t veto their bill, they aren’t any closer to having a viable replacement.

Whatever slapdash legislation they pass after the repeal of Obamacare is going to result in many millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage. You can count on that.

Quite a few of those who will be stripped of their health insurance are people who voted for Trump. It’s possible they won’t mind that. They may even think that losing their health insurance and dying from some dread disease as a result will be the greatest thing since sliced bread because Trump supported it.

But even so, there will be large numbers of people who aren’t quite so enthused about the fact that they no longer have access to healthcare.  Many of them will be right here in Georgia.

Close to a half-million Georgians have been enrolled for coverage for the 2017 health insurance exchange through Dec. 31.

The 482,445 enrollment number, though, falls short of last year’s pace, when  511,826 Georgians had been signed up for coverage by Dec. 26.

The number of Georgians without health insurance coverage could increase by more than one million if the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a replacement, according to estimates by the Urban Institute.

If congressional Republicans vote to repeal the ACA next year, with the program terminating in 2019, the number of uninsured Georgians would increase from the 1.427 million to 2.43 million.

This becomes a problem for Georgia legislators because their constituents who no longer have health insurance are going to demand that the state do something to help them. Lawmakers who know they will be running for reelection in 2018 will be under intense pressure.

The legislative leadership is well aware of that. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has already appointed a special committee in the state Senate to try to come up with ways to deal with the fallout from Obamacare repeal.

I’m not sure how much good that will do. If Georgia were suddenly forced to take care of 500,000 to one million people are stripped of their health coverage, it would bust the state’s budget

For now, all the can do is wait and see what happens in Washington.  If you are a legislator and you’re not nervous about what lies ahead, you haven’t been paying attention.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

Tags: Obamacare repeal

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