These days it’s hard for D.C. politicians to reach bipartisan agreement — but all now acknowledge that the Obamacare rollout has been disastrous. As a result, politicians who had supported Obamacare, like Congressman Pete Gallego [TX-23], are running for political cover by promising voters that a few more “fixes” are all that’s needed to make this flawed law work.
The truth is a few “fixes” aren’t enough. This isn’t a surprise. Experts have seen this coming for years. There were plenty of warnings of the damage this law would do dating back to when it passed the Senate.
Seniors opposed the $700 billion Medicare cut. Young people asked why they should have to pay more than their fair share, and why they should be forced to pay for coverage they didn’t need or want. Union workers opposed the new tax that threatens their health care plans. Many said the subsidies were too small, and would leave workers paying through the nose for the more expensive insurance. Medical device manufacturers predicted the new tax on their products would kill jobs. Many were angry about special deals to win the votes of key Senators.
The list goes on.
The problems were so severe that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill.” But when she recognized this unworkable scheme was her only option, she forced it through anyway. The problems soon became apparent. Even the administration official in charge of the government-operated insurance exchange warned it might be “a third-world experience” and compared it to a plane crash. The Senate author of the bill said it might be a train wreck and the Government Accountability Office cautioned that the exchanges might not be ready. Back in 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services reported the law would cancel insurance for millions. But instead of confronting real problems, there have been an endless string of “fixes.”
Pete Gallego needs to explain why he has rejected even these modest reforms to a law the administration called a “plane crash” and the Senate author called a “train wreck.”
- Daniel Garza
The administration gave insurance subsidies to dozens of states — without clear legal authority. The new Medicaid mandate was tossed when the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. The requirement that large employers offer insurance to workers was delayed. The Spanish-language enrollment site is now in limbo. Members of Congress and their staff were suddenly offered taxpayer subsidies to buy into the exchanges regardless of income — something not authorized in the law. The small business exchange remains on hold.
The latest “fix” is a partial “grandfathering” of some canceled plans — which insurance companies say is unworkable. Now, the White House is considering bypassing the broken website and giving tax subsidies directly to insurers — and even talking about a new insurance company bailout . This is a stunning change from a White House that vilified the insurers — until it became clear their help was needed to save the law.
Despite the string of unworkable problems, Pete Gallego supports the law. Earlier this year he said the Obamacare exchanges were something “we can all support.” He even voted against a bill to fund the U.S. government, delay for one year the tax penalty for not buying insurance that Washington approves, and repeal the special favor for Members of Congress. If that bill had been signed into law, it would have stopped the shutdown.
Pete Gallego needs to explain why he has rejected even these modest reforms to a law the administration called a “plane crash” and the Senate author called a “train wreck.” If everyone realizes this was a mistake, why are Rep. Gallego and his colleagues in Washington tinkering with the problem instead of finding a real solution?
Sadly, this law is a building on fire. The people of Texas are counting on their leaders to put it out — not to sprinkle a little water. The LIBRE Initiative is expanding “The Accountability Project” multimedia campaign to Texas so people can understand not only the flaws of the law, but how to hold Washington politicians accountable for the suffering that this law is causing across the country. Running for political cover is just not an option.
Daniel Garza is the Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative and former White House staffer from 2001-2006.