If you weren’t paying particularly close attention to what goes on at the State Capitol, or who your vote is sending there next year, you soon will as the threat to undo Obamacare becomes reality.
We now live in an acutely political world made critically dangerous because lies, hyperbole, faux news, data-less drivel and wishful thinking are deciding elections and filling the seats of important decision makers.
Putting some of these people in charge of your health care in times like these is akin to replacing your doctor with a magic eight-ball. “Feel better!”
Too bad. It’s a done deal. Ever since a Democratic-led Congress created Obamacare in 2010, a Republican-led Congress has been trying to get rid of it. “Repeal” has become the touchstone for all that is GOP and Trump, and these are not people likely to say, “We were wrong.”
So, if we’re lucky, America — but looking at the last election, America’s luck has run out — Trump and the Republicans will re-learn history. If you look back, the spiraling cost of health care and health insurance during the 1990s and especially during the Bush Administration is what brought us to Obamacare in 2010. The things that Republicans have suggested — selling insurance across state lines, ending malpractice lawsuits, making women pay for birth control — are old hat. Nobody other than FauxNews.com and Trump’s Twitter account believe that enacting those changes will make my insurance premiums go down. In fact — and I realize those words don’t mean squat anymore — possible changes that Trump and the GOP are floating have got the insurance and industrial medical complex industries saying, “No way, no how” already.
Republicans want to no longer require everyone to buy health insurance, so insurance companies have said there is no way they can continue to insure sick people. That means sick and poor people will flood hospitals for free care, just like they did before. So the hospitals have already signaled “No way, no how,” because they’ll go broke.
What many have conveniently forgotten and what so many politicians simply ignore, is that Obamacare was a complicated political miracle that tried to create a system we could live with by accommodating everyone and every industry, and annoying everyone and every industry. Insurance companies only went along with this because we forced everyone to buy insurance, keeping the risk pool profitable. Doctors and hospitals went along with this because we allowed them to charge pretty much what they want for anyone who didn’t receive Medicaid or Medicare. Americans went along with this because they could pick their doctor, get a free check-up every year and pay less for health insurance than ever before.
None of it was true. Not everybody has insurance, so the risk pool is filled with sick and old people still. Health-care providers gouge the public and still aren’t pleased with pay schedules for Medicaid and Medicare patients, limiting profits, salaries and conditions that rival any industry in the country. So they’ve gouged the others, and insurance companies have been free to pass the misery along, charging both spiraling premiums and evaporating benefits.
While the problem is vastly complicated, the major issues are not. Humans get sick, and they want to get well and keep from dying. It’s not like wanting a better car or bigger TV, it’s about living another day. Because of that, pretty much everybody can get treatment for illness. If you’re poor, it’s free at a hospital or the government pays. If you’re middle class, you pay through the nose for care, lose your house or something, but you get care. If you’re rich, it doesn’t matter. But the country provides a certain amount of health care for a certain number of people for a certain amount of money. Obamacare, Ryancare, Trumpcare and the rest? It’s all a shell game. Somebody gets sick and somebody pays. If your insurance rates go down, your taxes will probably go up. If the poor pay less, the middle class and rich pay more.
As long as we agree that we will not regulate the cost of drugs, hospitalization or treatment, it will be the same no matter what we call it or how we divide it up.
So if Congress and Trump don’t agree to re-brand Obamacare as BetterGOPcare, this will become a state issue.
Colorado has spotty history along these lines. Endless controversy about picking a doctor overwhelm any discussion about reducing the cost of treatment and insurance. But people who want northeast Colorado to secede, or send you $4 a year in lieu of funding schools or building roads and argue about whether John Denver sings the best Colorado song will be deciding whether you work for the rest of your life so you can afford to die relatively healthy.
Pay close attention, Colorado. It looks pretty certain that all health politics are about to become very local.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]