The GOP legislature approved this message

by | Mar 19, 2014 | Editor's Blog, Health Care, NC Politics, NCGA, Obamacare | 20 comments

Yesterday, the power of incumbency to shape the political agenda and try to shape public opinion was on full display. The Republican-led legislature held hearings on the Affordable Care Act. They weren’t interested in learning anything useful. They just wanted to bash the program.

Democrats correctly called the show political theater. And that’s what it was–at taxpayer expense. They only called witnesses who opposed the program, including a guy who, according to the article, once called Barack Obama a fascist. He came to the hearing with the competing qualifications of Duke University scholar and right-wing bomb thrower.

In North Carolina, the GOP is doing everything they can to make the program fail and keep the attacks on Obamacare in news. It’s working. The hearings were being live-tweeted by GOP hacks and they showed up on the front page of the local section of the News & Observer. They should have been required to open the hearings with a political disclaimer: “This message has been approved by the GOP legislature and paid for at government expense.”

According to the article, a Blue Cross executive said the insurer is seeing an “increase in expensive imaging, costly drugs and heart conditions.” My interpretation is that people who obviously need health care are finally getting it. The right-wing Duke guy just sees it as a program that’s too expensive.

And that’s the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are focused on the impact that policies have on the quality of life for even our most vulnerable citizens. Republicans are only interested on the impact policies have on pocketbooks.

And it explains why Democrats have long wanted a plan for universal health care, like every other industrialized nation, and why Republicans don’t.


  1. Asonjay Inchclay (@Clinchah)

    Who cares if it’s from november? It’s still simple math (which I know can be hard for some people). Even with these heady enrollment numbers thus far, they do not adequately compensate for the unintended consequences of cancelled insurance policies. Maybe your coffee can get your synapses firing to see you’ve been led astray by politicians trying to stay in power by making promises they couldn’t hope to keep. But hey, if you’re happy with the ever changing mandate implementation date and exemptions being doled out to cronies, then more power to you.

    • Paleo Tek

      In case you missed it in the Ungar article, the “unintended consequences” turn out to be in the noise range compared to the normal churn of policy overturn. Or as Rick says:

      >As a result of at least half of those cancelled being able to either enroll in a Medicaid
      >program or receive subsidies on the healthcare exchanges, many—if not most—will
      >now find health care coverage at a price lower than previously paid while greatly
      >improving the quality of coverage.

      >Still, roughly one million people will have to replace their cancelled policy with
      >something that may cost them more. This is not a good thing but it is far, far less
      >dramatic than what we’ve been hearing.

      I know it’s hard for a (modern) conservative to understand that the government can (and should!) do things to benefit the people. But that’s what’s happened here. The rate of uninsured people is going down dramatically. That’s a good thing. The coverage of insured people has improved dramatically. That’s a good thing. I haven’t seen stats yet, but the rate of medical bankruptcies is certain to go down dramatically. That’s a good thing.

      What good things do the Republicans have in planned for us in healthcare? Governing is hard.

  2. Paleo Tek

    Funny, but nobody seems to be getting the big picture: ObamaCare is working, hooray! The ranks of the uninsured are down by 1% in 3 months, at the lowest level since 2008. The number of part time workers is going down, while full time employment is going up. The playing field is being leveled for small employers (like me!) since health coverage isn’t such a swamp, and pre-existing conditions and medical bankruptcies are in the rear-view mirror. For more along these lines, see that commie leftie rag, Forbes Magazine:

    Oh wait! No one seems to notice that access to health care is a moral issue? That every developed nation in the world (EXCEPT THE US!) has found a way to finance providing health care to its citizens? How can these conservatives claim any relationship to Christianity or morality while denying basic human needs to finance tax cuts to the rich? It’s a simplification to say that it’s because they’re stupid or evil. My take is that it’s a crusade lead by evil paid hacks, carried by useful idiots, financed and encouraged by the evil rich. Draw your own conclusions, but there are objective measures that the healthcare situation in the US seems is improving THANKS TO THE DEMOCRATS, at significant political cost.

    If you want to talk healthcare policy, bring it on, I might learn something. And I might teach you something. If you want to bash Obamacare, Because Freedom, check your morals. I try hard to live the ethics I was raised with, and consigning poor people to die of curable diseases is not part of that.

    • barbdant123

      Thank you. Well said and true. I shall be passing this on to many as it is clear and concise and needs to be shared. Thank you Democrats for caring.

    • geek49203

      Contact me. Geek49203 at hotmail. Tell me how it works. Tell me that I’m uninsured due to my own stupidity not because ACA sucks.

      I’ll tell you how I’ve sold the stuff, purchased individual plans WITH family members who have cancer, worked for medical billing companies, etc etc. And hence I know more about this than most who voted for it.

      C’mon, email me. Tell me how I can do this. Cause the way I read the rules, the “subsidy” that is large enough to give me a bronze plan (that I probably won’t use due to the killer deductible and don’t plan on getting pregnant) is really a TAX CREDIT that I’ll have to pay back a year from now.

      Or is that your little secret, that millions will owe billions next year?

      • Paleo Tek

        As I’ve said elsewhere, I think access to affordable healthcare is a basic right in a developed economy.

        In a bill as large as the ACA, there will be winners and losers. It sounds like you are one of the unfortunate ones. I’m sorry for that.

        Elsewhere you argue that the ACA does too much. Now you argue that it’s not doing enough for you. It’s hard to have it both ways.

        The insurance plans that the ACA scrapped were banned in large part because they were not protecting the policyholders from bankruptcy. The were defective, at least compared to international standards. It may not be fair to compare the US to other healthcare financing options, but we should at least aspire to do as good a job as other countries someday.

        Have you talked with a navigator? You know, the experts on the law that provide free advice, and are derided by your regional sports team? If you haven’t I would suggest that you try to find one.

        And are you aware that there is a 5% surcharge added to your insurance quotes because your regional sport team refused to set up an exchange? That’s right, everyone pays more for insurance because the Republicans are in a snit.

        Good luck. I hope you find the help you need.

  3. larry

    Yet North Carolina seems to have one of the largest number of ACA sign ups nationally by count and percentage. I assume the GOP incumbents who are playing to a Tea Party base have something to offer the nearly 200k people who have signed up for insurance via the web site(as of Feb count). Other than the Tea Party base do you really believe anyone cares or is paying attention to the Tillis Variety Show?

    • geek49203

      Larry — so here’s how that happened.

      When ACA came into law, BCBS-NC killed my policy. And no, I can’t have it back, ’cause BCBS-NC said so.

      Instead they automatically rolled me into a Bronze plan that I cannot afford, and makes no financial sense for me. But hey, that is 1 person signed up, right? I mean, people like me (and no, I didn’t sign up and didn’t make a single payment) was listed as one of the 200k?

      You BET I was counted.

      Tell me again how this ACA stuff works?

  4. HunterC

    RomneyObamaHeritageFoundationCare is justly being pilloried.

    I don’t care that GOPers are doing it for political gain (quelle surprise!) or that corporate behemoths are using it to justify sticking it to their captured market (shocked, shocked!) or that media is covering it.

    “Democratic” leadership was told over and over and over by what is considered the left (ha!) in this country they would rue this travesty of a compromise, and so it has come to pass.

    One would hope “Democratic” leaders would have learned the lesson of betraying your supposed philosophy by now, but clearly they haven’t.

    May they wander in the wilderness until they do.

    • Thomas Ricks

      Funny but except for blue dogs I don’t really see a lot of Dems cowering in fear of the ACA…and the ones that are deserve to be toasted.

      Barney Fife never won anything in his life and neither will the coward caucus.

      • geek49203

        Thomas — shall I share links to unions that are how having sh*t fits over ACA? Or would that be “conservative lying”?

  5. geek49203

    Pot, meet kettle. “Our regional sports team is better than your regional sports team” (The Onion). “Your billionaires are evil but we’re funded by poor oppressed working people and people who expect nothing in return.”

    And my favorite — “We don’t do political theater but the other guys, when they discuss an issue, are always doing political theater.”

    So, here is the bottom line:

    1. Nothing of this size has EVER been pulled off in the history of the world. The issue is called “economies of scale” which is normally taught in Econ 101. The US medical care economy is roughly the size of the old centrally-managed economy of the USSR. Even the Chinese had to relinquish central control to a large extent to get this large.

    No school of management teaches people how to do something this massive. And in fact, as I recall, Hayak got a Nobel Prize for describing all of this stuff, and Ayn Rand is still popular describing why it won’t work (final installment this fall!).

    So, to predict that this thing was gonna be a cluster f*** didn’t take Nostra Freakin Damas, did it?

    2. This was never an idea that enjoyed majority support, either inside of the Congress or in the US population. It was passed due to “kickbacks” — IE, promises to fund a brother’s campaign, or promises to bring Fed money to a state — plus the threat of outright threat of defunding in the next election should any Dem break ranks. Say what you will — the ACA as people understood it never got above 50%, and now that “we passed it and see what’s in it” the popularity is just above that of cockroaches, herpes, and Congress.

    Seriously — remember the days when all of the ACA deliberations were to be broadcast on C-SPAN? Do you seriously think that the “bottom half” of the DEMOCRATIC Senators — ie, Kay Hagan — have a say on this? Seriously? And then for people to claim at the same time, “We X number of GOP recommendations put into this bill” with “The GOP didn’t to play ball with us.” Hell, the ACA legislative process wasn’t even open to most Dems, and in fact was put together in LBJ-style smoke filled rooms.

    And everything else was political theater, circa 2009-2010.

    So, please stop. I’m dying of laughter here. And I’m storing this one away for the next time your side does some sort of thing, which should be sometime in the next week. If your side opposed a vastly unpopular program brought by the other side, you’d have hearings. Midnight hearings (Sandra Fluke ring a bell?) if you needed to. And I’m betting you’d have wall to wall coverage by all of the friendly media outlets too.

    • geek49203

      Come to think of it — didn’t your side do some sort of ‘jammie sleepover lockin in the US Senate, talking about “Global Warming”, last week? All to get some $100 million from some poor, oppressed working class stiff?

      Wait, it wasn’t some sort of long-haired Occupy person, but rather some billionaire?

      • Thomas Ricks

        If a conservative is speaking, a conservative is lying.

    • Mike

      The point here is that the GOP has to hide their attacks as some sort of “fact finding” mission in which they only seek facts to support their agenda. Call it what it is not what you want to make the public believe.

      There is no purpose to educate or find solutions, just to bash the ACA. I’m not a big fan of it, I think it has it’s problems but primarily bc the democrats compromised when they should have sought a public option. Medicaide expansion was supposed to help in bringing a more substantial single payer option but did not go far enough by either requiring states to do so (likely bc it would have landed on tough constitutional grounds) or simply using the alternative universal health care option as a stronger bargaining chip to require the expansion and hope to push a single payer option.

      These repubs don’t have an issue with expanding healthcare as much as they hold the president in disdain. They have no intention to improve healthcare in their state or the nation and only want to support their base (who would likely support better access to cheaper health care) and donors which only want to continue to profit off the broken system and keep quality health care as a privilege.

    • Paleo Tek

      So, geek, in summary:

      1) Governing is *hard*. We’re all doomed. Healthcare CAN’T be reformed.

      2) Everyone agrees with me. Because I say so. And nobody wanted healthcare reform.

      The ACA, despite tens or hundreds of millions spent by the rich to defame it, seems to be gaining in popularity quite handily. And working. Why else would Bloomberg report that 64% of the public believe it should remain law, either as is or with tweaks? I work on the front lines in healthcare IT every day. I see the good, bad, and ugly close up. ACA rocks! It’s taking our healthcare delivery system in right direction for the first time in decades. And your point is?

      Oh, and Ayn Rand? You believe in fairy tales too? Wasn’t she, like, a welfare queen?

      So, let’s talks substance. Do you have anything resembling policy recommendations? The Dems have been begging for Republican input, ever since they stole the ACA from the Heritage Foundation.

      I found this book to be very informative, comparing healthcare delivery and financing around the world:

      What informs your viewpoint, besides Faux News?

      • geek49203

        So in summary — you can’t summarize you can’t summarize in a way that the other side would recognize.

        You don’t cite counter arguments, just do derision. I mean, did the econ principle of “economies of scale” get repealed? Is Kennedy School of Management figure out how to run something that is 4% of the world’s economy?

        OR are you just into posting “yo momma” posts ’cause “your regional sports team is better than my regional sports team”?

        • Paleo Tek

          In summary, the ACA works. It’s an omnibus bill that addresses many things besides the individual mandate. It was passed in a very contentious political environment with no Republican support. It is making American lives better today.

          I don’t see that you have anything substantial in your post, which is why I derided it. 1) You said it was too hard to achieve. Ipso facto, you are wrong. The ACA is the law of the land, and it’s working.

          In case you missed it, the way we legislate in this country is often by massive omnibus bills like the ACA. A bunch of policy initiatives get bundled into a large piece of legislation, written by staffers and often not read by senators. The law is implemented, and over the next few years problems are identified and fixed.

          Your regional sport team, aka the Republican party, refused to offer any help in reforming a system that desperately needed reform. A lack of incentives for preventive care, the ability of the big insurers to refuse coverage based on initial conditions, the high rate of medical bankruptcies, and the ability of insurers to reject claims on arbitrary and capricious grounds are just of few of the issues it addresses.

          I’m puzzled by your point 1, and your thinking that economies of scale apply. Economy of scale is a microeconomic concept, or at least that’s what they taught me in econ 101. I’m sorry I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have, but I think it has something to do with the marginal cost of a good or service going down as volume goes up. How, exactly, does that apply here?

          You say:
          >Is Kennedy School of Management figure out how to run something that
          >is 4% of the world’s economy?

          Is that supposed to mean something? I think you’re trying to say that the US healthcare system is too large to reform? Which I derided by parodying:

          >1) Governing is *hard*. We’re all doomed. Healthcare CAN’T be reformed.

          You said something stupid. I made fun of it. That’s how the Internet works.

          My rebuttal is that is can be reformed, and has been reformed. Yes, it could be improved, and should be improved. Is your regional sports team willing to help improve it? Do they even have any coherent ideas for healthcare policy?

          Your second point, about majority support for arcane policy initiatives is probably true, but so what? Nobody follows the arcana of laws as they get made. Remember the old saw about laws being made like sausage being made? You might like the results, but it’s no fun to watch.

          So how did it become the law of the land without majority support in Congress, anyway? If you say obviously inane things, you won’t get much respect. Your regional sports team refused to address an interrelated series of structural issues related to healthcare. And now they’ve painted themselves into an ugly corner, because the other regional sports team has benefited the country, at your regional sport team’s cost.

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