A curious thing happened in the year-long GOP tragicomedy to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Apparently, citizens were paying attention to the political shennanigans, to the messaging, to the media, to the propaganda and the policy. Less to the tweets. They were able to sift through fact and fiction, through the cacophony of voices in the public drama, and to what it all meant to them, their families, their bottom line. Their health.
And then America voted to re-up.
Initial ACA enrollment figures this past week, Monday through Thursday, totaled more than 600,000 – up 45 percent compared to a similar period last year.
Yes, Americans like access to quality health care. And the deal on the table? Good enough to sign on the dotted line.
President Donald J. Trump and his Republican minions – including our very own Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. Evan Jenkins – have insisted, ad nauseam, that “Obamacare” is a disaster, failing, beyond repair.
“Obamacare has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent, hard-working Americans,” the bombastic and uninformed Trump said in a White House press conference last srpring.
Well, we elect to disagree, Mr. President.
Just this past Tuesday in Maine, citizens voted to expand Medicaid under “Obamacare,” something its Republican governor – a minime Trump – had sworn not to do.
Maine voters had other ideas.
On the same day, Virginia gave Democrats the nod – a governorship and a monumental swing toward majority control of the state legislature.
In polling, two-thirds of Virginia voters called health care a “very important” or the most important issue influencing their vote.
And in Maine? Well, the ballot initiative and corresponding vote speak volumes.
Why have Republicans been so dismissive? Is there something else here at work?
They know, like the rest of us, that 20 million Americans rely on the ACA for coverage.
Closer to home, West Virginians and our Medicaid-dependent state budget profit greatly from the ACA – especially via provisions regarding pre-existing conditions, coverage for mental health and maternity care, and the expansion of Medicaid benefits for the working poor.
Since the ACA’s passage in 2010, southern West Virginia has seen its uninsured population fall 13 percent.
Further, according to a 2017 report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, repealing the ACA would result in 184,000 West Virginians losing their health insurance, and an estimated 16,000 jobs being flushed by 2019 – along with $350 million in tax revenue over five years.
What don’t Capito and Jenkins see? Is party dogma that blinding?
Or is there a powerful faction of big-dollar donors steering the ship, casting their ballots?
If so, then the only question is this: Whom do Capito and Jenkins serve? They are, after all, public servants – to West Virginians.
If our congressional reps have given you reason to question their policy intentions, no fear, they are now debating tax reform.
Given what we know about their inclination on health care, we’ll give you one guess as to who gets stuck with the bill when tax legislation passes that favors the ultra rich.
So, how’s your blood pressure? Got coverage?