Affording affordable care

Our View: Louisiana needs mental health check
January 10, 2017
Joe Gaddis
January 10, 2017

I don’t tend to court controversy on my Facebook page, but every so often the devil gets in me and I just can’t help it.

That’s what happened when I shared a meme that indicated support for a “single payer” health care option. I did so because a discussion on an important measure, the future of the Affordable Care Act, is now underway.

The new president doesn’t start work officially until Jan. 20. The new Congress is already seated and busy. One would hope toward good ends.

I remember wincing when I first heard the ACA referred to as “Obamacare,” largely because I knew the moniker was coined by people who were not fans of the president or of the law’s basic tenets.

So I watched with some amusement as my Facebook friends – I have a diverse bunch of people who follow me on there and I like it that way – jousted form their respective and in some cases predictable corners.

I don’t personally believe we will ever see single-payer health insurance in this country, what amounts to Medicare for everybody, though I do believe that to live up to the beliefs of those who say we are the greatest country in the world, such as program is necessary. I know people disagree. And they are entitled to that opinion.

Looking at the discussion on the Facebook page prompted me to make some inquiries of our current members of Congress about the future of healthcare in our country, now that the demise of the Affordable Care Act is just about assured.

The question, of course, is how this will happen, not just whether it will happen.

On the television and the radio there are lots of opinions about this. The hard-line Republicans, they say, want an outright repeal of the law. When and if it is replaced is not of concern to them.

This course of action, of course, is reckless and absurd.

I personally don’t have to worry. My employer, fortunately, provides me with an insurance plan which has allowed me to get what I need, at a price I can afford.

But there are those provisions of the ACA that matter to me, too, like caps on payouts for specific illnesses and treatments, because one never knows what the future might bring. And there is that whole thing about pre-existing illnesses.

So I decided to go right to the source and contacted Chris Bond, who works for Rep. Steve Scalise. Scalise is not just any Louisiana congressman. He is the congressman who is the House of Representatives Majority Whip, which means he is the guy who will communicate policy and preference to his fellow Republicans.

“There are discussions happening right now among Congressional leaders and with the incoming Trump Administration to ensure that we not only repeal Obamacare, but replace it with reforms that make quality healthcare more affordable and accessible to Americans,” is how Chris answered my question. “As Whip, Rep. Scalise has been in contact with both the President-elect and Vice President-elect on this and other issues. As far as transitioning from Obamacare is concerned, here is what Rep. Scalise told Fox News this Sunday:

“I think everybody recognizes that there will be a transition period,” Scalise said. “President-elect Trump and our leaders have said nobody is going to get the rug pulled out from underneath them as we transition off of Obamacare after repeal.”

“The House will take a critical step toward repeal this week as both the Senate and House take up the FY 2017 budget,” Chris said, continuing his answer. “Using the Budget Reconciliation process will allow the Senate to pass repeal with a simple majority rather than their usual 60-vote threshold. This is a strategy Rep. Scalise spearheaded last Congress, which allowed Congress to put Obamacare repeal (and defunding Planned Parenthood) on President Obama¹s desk, which he of course vetoed.”

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I was supportive of the President’s landmark act, although I would have preferred something like a single payer system.

Regardless of that or any other political disagreements I might have with Scalise or any other member of Congress, I have to hand it to Scalise and to Chris Bond. The answer I got was thorough, helpful and complete. And that is really all a guy like me can hope for. I’m glad as we move forward into a new day under a new administration, we have calm and reasonable representatives like Scalise, with a staff that is responsive and informative. I have more hope for the future today than I did yesterday. •