Frugal Ron Gets It Right – Again

While rational people celebrate the Republican failure to replace Obamacare, it is worth a trip back in time when Frugal Ron got it right and accurately predicted the mess Republicans would have replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court was preparing to rule on the constitutionality of the ACA. If the Court had struck down Obamacare, Republicans who controlled both the House and Senate, would have been forced to come up with a replacement. On March 14, 2015, Frugal Ron published “The Supreme Court and Obamacare”. Some quotes from this prescient article predicted what would happen if Republicans had to re-write a health care law instead of just complaining …“Republicans seem under the illusion the Affordable Care Act will simply go away. We’ll go back to pre Obamacare and all will be well with the world. Unfortunately, this scenario is naïve at best and blatantly stupid at worst .”

Getting it right.
Mayo Clinic,; Rochester, Minnesota. They got it right. U.S. medical technology at its best.

“The insurance industry won’t allow efforts to re-engineer the Affordable Care Act without the insurance mandate. The insurance mandate is the requirement that everyone must have health insurance or they will have a penalty fee added to their taxes.  One Obamacare criticism is that not enough people have signed up to keep the system solvent. Take away or weaken the health insurance mandate and the problem is exasperated. Under intense time pressure from all directions, Republicans would be forced to re-write the Affordable Care Act to include the federal exchanges and with no other substantive changes.” Or, as happened recently, simply leave Obamacare in place.

What happened?

The Republican plan to replace Obamacare unravelled for a number of reasons. Even many Trump supporters figured out their health insurance costs were going up dramatically without the ACA subsidies. Furthermore, the subsidies were immediate relief where with the Republican plan, they would have to wait a year to get the tax credits.

Ultimately, the argument boiled down to how this was going to affect the middle class and the working poor. The Congressional Budget Office projections found that the Republican’s American Health Care Act  would dramatically increase individual’s health insurance costs while lowering federal spending minimally.  Frugal Ron  hit another home run in October, 2013 with “A True Conservative’s endorsement of Obamacare”.

“Without Obamacare, costs borne by people with health insurance will become more onerous. For individuals, the logical decision for a young, healthy person is to not buy health insurance. Odds are, they won’t need to use it. If something catastrophic happens, they’ll get treatment and if worse comes to worse, they’ll declare bankruptcy. This raises insurance premiums even higher and the next year more healthy young people opt to take their chances without health insurance.”

“How big a problem is this? An Employment Policies Institute study found 43% of the uninsured – about 20 million people – earn more than 2.5 times the federal poverty level, or $55,125 for a family of four. The authors – who include June O’Neill, the GOP-appointed head of the Congressional Budget Office from 1995 to 1999 – write “because most people at that income level are able to get insurance, (they) thus may be classified as ‘voluntarily’ uninsured.””

What Frugal Ron missed

While Frugal Ron basks in the sunlight of his accurate prediction about the nightmare Republicans would have if it ever came to replacing Obamacare, he gets a heavy dose of humility for predicting a Republican Congress would give Trump everything he wanted.

In an August 1, 2016 posting titled “A Donald Trump Presidency”, Frugal Ron wrote, “If Trump wins the presidency, it is logical to assume Republicans will maintain control of the House and Senate. Because of his electoral mandate, Congress will give him pretty much of what he demands.”

Thankfully, enough Republican Congressmen are showing resolve, independence and some common sense to wreck Trump’s agenda. The cause is certainly aided by the ultra right-wing Freedom Caucus, who seem to hate anything that helps U.S. citizens lead more productive and enjoyable lives.

For many elected Republicans, the bottom line was simply job survival. Women’s’ marches of hundreds of thousands and belligerent town hall meetings where Republican members of Congress had to do the impossible of defending their American Health Care Act all contributed to the bill’s downfall. It certainly didn’t help the Republican cause that according to a Quinnipiac University poll, only 17 percent of voters wanted Obamacare replaced. https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2443. In another poll by Hart Research, 68 percent of respondents wanted to keep what works of Obamacare and fix the rest.

What next?

President Donald Trump predicts, “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!” Hopefully, President Trump will hold his breath waiting for the Obamacare explosion.

The Congressional Budget Office and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) are considered the most accurate sources of unbiased health cost information. The Congressional Budget Office projected that Annual Average Benchmark Premiums would be $5,200 in 2016. The KFF estimates the average annual premium in 2016 was $4,583. http://kff.org/health-reform/perspective/how-aca-marketplace-premiums-measure-up-to-expectations/  This is important because  if Obamacare is to meet its goal of having no effect on the federal budget (compared to before the law’s enactment), average premiums need to be at or below the Congressional Budget Office’s  projection.

While the The Affordable Care Act has successfully kept health care cost increases low, it is flawed.  It is too easy for citizens to either pay a tax penalty or claim an exemption to avoid buying insurance. There are 14 different exemptions enabling people to  avoid buying insurance. In addition, the tax penalty for not buying health insurance is too low. This results in 20 million US citizens without health care insurance. Both of these problems need a fix to maintain a large pool of insured healthy people.

The weak mandate requiring everyone have approved health insurance drives up the cost of insurance dramatically in thin, mostly rural, markets. Right wing Republicans argue that by removing the mandate completely,  that costs will go down. This is completely illogical.

Summing-up, Frugal Ron got it right, Republicans didn’t

After seven years of listening to Rep.(R) Paul Ryan and other Republicans complaining about the Affordable Care Act, it is fun watching them twist in the wind while trying to  put together a replacement bill. They claim to be on the verge of passing a  bill in the House. But even if they do this,  it will experience a quick death in the Senate.

Republicans can’t seem to escape their dogma. Never before has a party with the presidency and solid majorities in the House and Senate blundered so badly and accomplished so little in their first 100 days in office.

No wonder they are such failures. Trump and his minions try to end extremely popular veteran and elderly programs along with Obamacare. Republicans try to use the savings to fund tax cuts for the rich, build walls and enact Executive Orders to cut off the lifeblood of our economic growth (immigrants) and enact out of control defense spending increases. Past administrations blamed gridlock on opposing parties controlling Congress. Donald Trump and Republicans only have their own incompetence to blame for their lack of accomplishment.

 


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