Idaho’s Mike Simpson wielded the gavel Thursday as Republicans in the House of Representatives took the first real step to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Simpson, a former House speaker in the Idaho Legislature, has plenty of experience in parliamentary procedure. But maybe more likely, Republican leaders chose him because he represents a solidly red district and photos of him overseeing the repeal of Obamacare aren’t likely to do him much harm come the next election. (Democrats actually celebrated as the vote took place, predicting that Republicans in purple districts will surely get voted out of office for supporting the repeal.)
For his part, Simpson has been pledging for years to do away with the former president’s health care plan. Standing on principle, Simpson said he voted to repeal Obamacare on Thursday to keep his promises.
We can respect that. What we can’t abide is his support for the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. It would be disastrous for Idaho.
For starters, the GOP replacement is likely to strip tens of millions of people of insurance. The Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan government analysis agency, estimated as many as 24 million under a previous version of the bill.
It also affects company-provided insurance programs, freeing up employers to curb coverage for their workers. So even if you’re insured by your employer, you’re going to want to follow this issue.
For Idahoans on Medicaid, the bill would cut benefits for low-income people and allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. All told, the bill is expected to cut Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years.
Also, say goodbye to many of the government subsidies that help people obtain coverage on the insurance market. The GOP bill would no longer tie subsidies to incomes but instead link them to age. Poorer people would get even less money, while the rich would get more.
Perhaps worst of all, the plan creates loopholes for insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or insurance companies may set astronomical rates to treat pre-existing conditions. Go watch the Jimmy Kimmel clip from last week about his newborn’s health crisis if you want to see what that will do to American families.
Still don’t believe this is a bad deal? Consider that the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP – just about every organized medical group – opposes the bill.
Or that fact that the bill would almost certainly lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans whose illnesses would go untreated because they can no longer afford insurance.
Put simply, this bill will cause immeasurable human suffering. And for what? So a few Republicans can score a political win against a man who is no longer even president? Republicans have had seven years to build a replacement plan for Obamacare. This is the best they could do?
Simpson and the rest of the party are ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater – some critics of the plan say, without hyperbole, the bill will trigger the collapse of the American health care system – just to keep a political promise?
That’s not principled. That’s irresponsible.