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Foolish healthcare moves by GOP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., listens during a news conference following a Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., listens during a news conference following a Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 AP

“I’m a fool for you baby. You know that I am crazy baby.”

Aretha Franklin

Crazy is the best way to describe the latest GOP attempt to shoot themselves in both feet concerning Obamacare repeal. I would have thought my party’s leadership was brighter than this regarding health-care reform, but evidently foolish is the correct assessment.

Since 2009, the GOP has been moaning about “repeal and replace.” Unfortunately, few in the party actually had any understanding as to what a replacement would look like.

The ones who did, like Speaker Paul Ryan and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, were ideologically motivated by a hatred of large domestic programs. They were unable to objectively evaluate the ACA (Obamacare), only seeing the negatives and costs, but never the benefits.

And, then we have the “Who knew?” phenomena, and I do not mean the pop song by Pink. Back in February, our self-proclaimed brilliant deal maker stated: “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Is that right? I’ve never been president or starred in a reality TV show where I bullied poor fools, but as a health-care professional I knew that health care is the most complicated domestic policy area there can be. From my 30 odd years in health care, much of it in planning and policy, my suspicion is that almost all health care executives feel the same way.

Once again, that is why it is so shocking that Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell are proceeding down a dark and dingy road into political and moral oblivion. Virtually everyone in the health care field believes the GOP effort would be disastrous for patients, state budgets and the economy.

From left, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stand with health care advocates, grassroots activists, and concerned constituents at a rally outside the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Senate Republicans begin another push to repeal the Affordable Care Act with the Graham-Cassidy proposal. Andrew Harnik AP

On Sept. 18, an umbrella group of 16 influential health care groups signed a letter opposing the Graham-Cassidy bill. Signers included the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Arthritis Foundation, among others.

Per their statement: “This bill would limit funding for the Medicaid program, roll back important essential health benefit protections, and potentially open the door to annual and lifetime caps on coverage, endangering access to critical care for millions of Americans. Affordable, adequate care is vital to the patients we represent. This legislation fails to provide Americans with what they need to maintain their health.”

As a Republican I am 100 percent convinced that the Graham-Cassidy bill is also political suicide. While the small and shrinking base of tea party people may applaud, the much larger group of independent voters will be shocked when the true impact of this latest version of Trumpcare takes effect. The GOP losses over the next decade will make the 2010 Democratic route look like a small bump in the road.

Jacquelyn Martin AP

It is time for the GOP to stop trying to repeal Obamacare with half-baked substitutes. For the time being, legislation is needed to stabilize insurance markets so that insurance companies will stop leaving geographic markets and raising premiums. That should be our priority and was being considered until the introduction of this foolish last attempt to undo the Obama legacy. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was making substantial progress, working across the aisle.

If the GOP would really like to take a next step and help the 19 red states which chose not to expand Medicaid because of the 10 percent state contribution requirement, Congress could pass a law doing away with the state matching requirement. This one action would cut the number of uninsured dramatically, as well as help the GOP politically in these red states.

It says something very negative about the state of political discourse in this nation that the majority of the leadership of my party no longer seems to care about the negative impact of its policies on Americans. Of course, then again, the leadership could be crazy fools, like in Aretha’s song.

Jack Bernard, the first director of Health Planning for Georgia, has been a senior executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party.