As I write this, the 115th Congress of the United States has just gaveled itself to life.
Republican senators and representatives typically talk about an individual constituent back home who’s facing higher health insurance premiums, or a business owner who’s facing horrible reporting headaches, because of Obamacare.
Occasionally, Republicans talk about returning to the joys of a pre-ACA world, in which consumers would get all of their health insurance consumer protections from state insurance laws and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, with fine new subsidized risk pools for people with diabetes or cancer. The promoters of the return to risk pools tend to leave out the part about how many of the pre-ACA risk pools were underfunded. Sick people often had to wait for years, without coverage, to get into the risk pools.
Some early Republican proposals for replacing the ACA call for repealing all of the main part of the ACA package, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and all of the health parts of PPACA’s little sister, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Democrats, meanwhile, put up pictures of people with diabetes or cancer, and imply that they’ll die, or at least suffer misery, if the ACA goes away.
Democrats rarely admit that any specific part of the ACA (other than, occasionally, a part of the ACA that the unions or technology companies back home happen to hate) has any specific flaw. They’ll merely acknowledge that the law has vague problems — to be named later — that need to be worked on.
When I watch members of Congress debating the health law, I feel like a book fan, watching a new movie with the same name as my favorite book, who has discovered that the filmmakers bought the rights to the story but have actually read the book.