Armageddon has arrived.
That is if you listen to the Republican tirades following the Supreme Court’s decision over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most of it revolves around repeal and then replace, although there are no replacements in the pipeline from any of the Republicans.
But just to be clear, there have been proposals to reform health care over the past 20 years — and those proposals sponsored by or supported by Republicans called for the individual mandate the Republicans now call tyranny, socialistic and the end of individual liberty in the United States.
The first came back in 1989 when the Heritage Foundation — yes THAT Heritage Foundation, the conservative Republicans’ favorite think tank — proposed the mandate on households. Republican members of Congress used the proposal to counter President Bill Clinton’s health care plans in 1993 with their plan that called for a mandate.
Then in 2007 — a mere five years ago — Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, according to Ezra Klein in The New Yorker, began trying to piece together a new proposal around the mandate and he met with 80 senators and there were very few who objected.
Indeed, Republican Sen. Bob Bennett signed on to co-sponsor what became the Wyden-Bennett bill — which was eventually co-sponsored by 11 other Republicans and nine Democrats. Remember those days of bipartisanship?
And our very own Mitt Romney, who had signed Romneycare in Massachusetts with the individual mandate, said on “Meet the Press” in a June 2009 interview that it was a plan “that a number of Republicans think is a very good health-care plan — one that we support.”
I could go into all the psychological reasons that may prompt a complete and utter flip-flop on the idea of an individual mandate and it would be easy to just say that Republicans are all schizophrenic. It would be better, however, to hold the Republicans’ feet to the fire and hold them accountable for the times they were for it before they became against it.
We can start at the top of the ticket with Mitt Romney who included it in the Massachusetts plan that the Affordable Care Act was based on.
I know, I know — what is good in Massachusetts was what was good for Massachusetts and other states can devise their own plans to help the citizens of their state. The reality: they won’t, especially those states controlled by the Republican Party. If you think Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Jan Brewer in Arizona, Rick Snyder here or Chris Christie in New Jersey are all of a sudden going to rise up and propose plans to cover the residents of their states, guess again and dream on.
At the moment, few are stepping back and taking a reasoned look at health care in the midst of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Will the Affordable Care Act really make health care more affordable, not only for patients but for the country as a whole? Truth be told, we spend 18 percent of gross domestic product on health care, much more than other rich countries. It is estimated that about a third of that is wasted for tests and procedures that are not efficient or, in the long-run, aren’t helpful.
We have a system where premiums keep going up and up, be it to employers or private policies, where people are denied coverage or are tossed out of the system and where for many without insurance or the ability to get Medicaid, the emergency room becomes their family practitioner of choice.
The system is broken on many levels and quite frankly the Republicans don’t have a plan to fix it.
Maybe the reason why was articulated by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell appearing on Fox News Sunday a couple weeks ago — when asked by Chris Wallace how the Republicans would handle the 30 million uninsured he dodged the question twice and then said, “That is not the issue. The question is how you can go step by step to improve the American health care system.”
So for you 30 million or so, including the many around here that have no health insurance, never fear, the Republicans are on the job going step by step to improve the American health care system. Just don’t expect to get insurance any time soon.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at email@example.com.