Letter: What’s the principle?
October 10, 2013
What's the principle?
The letter (Oct. 7, "Where's the principal?", The Aspen Times) from my friend Frieda Wallison initially gave me some hope of a Republican call to reason about the current fuss in Washington. Alas, it was disappointing.
Let's get a few things straight. House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and that's what they tried again over the 2014 budget. What would this mean? Insurance companies would no longer be required to cover children on their parents' policies to age 26. Life-time caps (and even annual caps) on coverage would be allowed. Companies would no longer be required to sell insurance to any applicant. Coverage could be denied for pre-existing conditions, no matter how minor. Women could be charged more than men. Insurance would no longer be required to cover annual check-ups, mammograms, and other preventive health screening. Uniform coverage standards would disappear. The list goes on.
The current kerfuffle began because House Republicans demanded that the Affordable Care Act be repealed in order to pass a fiscal year 2014 budget funding the government. If they now have "legitimate points to make," it's a mystery what these points are. Remember, they began with repeal and moved on to defunding before they arrived at these points.
Surely it is not a "legitimate point" now "to ask members of Congress and their staffs to be subject to the law's requirements like every other person." Before passage of the Affordable Care Act, these folks were offered a wide choice of health care plans, subsidized by their employer (the USA), just as are most other government employees and employees of most large businesses. Before the act was passed, in a misguided attempt to impede it, Republicans inserted a provision prohibiting this arrangement for Congress and congressional employees. They are required to purchase individual coverage on the new exchanges, with income-related subsidies provided by their employer (the USA). What did House Republicans recently offer? Remove that subsidy so the purchaser would pay the entire cost, a substantial penalty to any low- or moderate-income Congressional employees, but something barely noticeable to most of the millionaire members of Congress. Is that a "legitimate point?"
The proposed "one-year delay in the individual mandate" is not remotely similar to the delay for big businesses (most of whom already offer coverage and will continue to do so). This delay is just to provide time to comply with some technicalities of the law. The proposed delay for the 15 percent of individuals who don't now have coverage serves no purpose.
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Far from an "offer that would benefit most Americans" these offers would be irrelevant to the roughly 85 percent of Americans who already have coverage and would cruelly penalize Congressional employees. Repeal would, however, harm most Americans.
It's not "where's the principal?", but "what's the principle?" for which Republicans are willing to shut down the government?
Vice chair, Pitkin County Democratic Party
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