TOM WARD - Want health care reform? Let Congress suffer, too

TOM WARD - Want health care reform? Let Congress suffer, too

Is it possible for President Donald Trump to do one thing – even one thing! – that Republicans, Democrats and Deplorables can agree on? In fact, he can, and I urge him in the strongest terms to do it immediately.

Please, Mr. President, take away the subsidies and sweet deals members of Congress give to themselves and their staffers when it comes to health care insurance. Let them and those around them deal with the same high cost of insurance, and the same high deductibles that drain the pockets of everyday working Americans. Let them get a bitter bite of the Affordable Care Act, too. It can’t happen quickly enough.

Like most Americans, I thought Democrats, acting alone, had created this carve-out for themselves as part of the ACA. In truth, it was done administratively – after the fact, in late 2012 – and can be ended administratively, too. Most Americans – Democrats and Republicans who now have to deal with the Obamacare monstrosity – overwhelmingly support taking this benefit away from members of Congress.

I learned this in a short July 24 column in The Wall Street Journal, “Force Congress’s hand on health care,” by Heather R. Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice. She wrote that in August 2013 (Republicans were in charge ... there are no “good guys” in this story) Congress “begged the Obama Administration for relief” from the ACA monster of their own making, and the Office of Personnel Management “ratified the fiction” that the House and Senate were “small businesses.” “That allowed,” she writes, “the OPM to establish a system of special subsidies and exemptions, sparing Congress the embarrassment of a self-serving vote.” So the politicians, including the quartet who serve Rhode Island today, had bureaucrats give themselves a sweet deal and stick the rest of us with the “Affordable” Care Act. (And they wonder why they are so universally held in such low regard. And they wonder why they were taken out by “the deplorables” last fall...)

Here’s the part of Higgins’ column you’ll enjoy most:

“Many staffers are exempted and allowed to remain on their old insurance plans. Members of Congress and their designated ‘official office’ staff are insured through the District of Columbia’s small business exchange – but they receive a one-of-a-kind subsidy from their employer (taxpayers) of up to $12,000, or about 70 percent of their premiums.

“All that would be illegal for anyone else. In fact, it’s illegal for Congress, too.”

The president, writes Higgins, can instruct the OPM to end the exemption and subsidies for Congress with the stroke of his pen.

To quote Nike, Mr. President, “Just do it.” There would be no more clear signal of “draining the swamp” than this. Americans support this. Do it!

If we all want real health care reform, something Republicans and Democrats can both agree to for the good of all, there is no more effective way than to allow members of Congress to personally suffer along with the rest of us, and get to know firsthand what they have put us all through. Let them listen to young staffers complain when they have to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket for a small visit to the urgent care. Let them watch their medication costs rise from $10 per month to $90 for the same bottle of pills. Then, perhaps, they will understand. Then, perhaps, they will act.

Liberals have won the war with Obamacare. It’s over. The cost of Medicaid has exploded, and there are too many fat fingers in the pie. It is the new “health care welfare,” and it cannot be undone. Cowardly Republicans, after seven years of lies, proved that in the past month. Democrats have nothing better. Working Americans are the losers.

Now it’s time for bipartisanship. Something better has to be created. And there would be no better spark to force members of Congress to sit down and talk with one another than to take away the cheap health care they and their staffers enjoy while the rest of us suffer, paying not only for our own problems, but theirs, too.

Grab the pen and make it happen, Mr. President. Americans of all political persuasions will thank you.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers

Comments

Well, it's so easy for the "Do As I Say" group, CONGRESS, to tell the PEOPLE to follow their DIRECTIVES when they, themselves don't have to suffer ANY repercussions! If OBAMACARE [ACA] is/was sooo good for "the PEOPLE", then WHY didn't CONGRESS have that same healthcare insurance?

DRAINING THE WASHINGTON SWAMP will take a lot of time, but it can and will be done---although NOT completely! TERM LIMITS must be established in order to fulfill this goal. As proven by other actions which Pres. Trump has taken, there is no doubt that he, et al, will do SOMETHING to try to RECTIFY the healthcare program. A RESOLUTION to the healthcare program would be his greatest ACCOMPLISHMENT!

"Hold on to your hats" because we are in for a lot more SURPRISES from the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. "It ain't over yet!"

AMEN!

The great Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote, "A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it"... time for term limits, and put them all under the ACA, see how fast it gets fixed. The funding for the ACA is not sustainable and costs continue to soar.. Fire Congress!

Good job, Tom. Our legislators, fed and state, are our employees. Why they expect to have healthcare better than that of their constituents is beyond me. I cannot afford a healthcare plan equal to that which we extend to our legislators. So, why are we, the tax paying public, expected to provide them with a plan far superior than that which we provide our own families?

Americans can start draining the Congressional swamp 
in 2018 by voting out all incumbents with greater than
12 years in Congress.  Suggest the public follow the
progress of bills S.J.Res.2 and H.J.Res.6.

Congressional Constitution term limits bills - Introduced 1/3/2017
Joint resolutions - S.J.Res.2, H.J.Res.6
Sponsors: Sen. Cruz, Ted [R-TX], Rep. DeSantis, Ron [R-FL-6]
Term Limits: Senate 2 terms, House of Representatives 3 terms

The status of Bills can be found at:
https://www.congress.gov/

Congress terms: Senate 6 years, House of Reps 2 years.

Once again Mr. Ward, you seem to drink from the conservative Kool Aide. Prior to the ACA Congress and their staff participated in the Federal Healthcare Program; an employee sponsored health insurance program. With passage of the ACA, Congress was moved to the "exchanges" created by the ACA in a political move to show that Congress was willing to be part of the risk pool. However, because Congress also received the employer contribution under the previous plan, the regulations had to be manipulated to allow the employer contribution. Most Americans receive their healthcare through an employer sponsored plan; the average employer contribution is 70% the cost with the remaining 30% coming from the employee. Congress shifted the cost of their contribution from the Federal Plan to the ACA; wise, who knows....but advocating that the employer contribution be eliminated is a mistake. Is your view that employer sponsored contributions be eliminated? Business would love to drop the exorbitant cost of ever rising health insurance.

Lost in the debate of healthcare are the actual cost drivers; hospitalization and pharmaceuticals. Talk about whether Congress should lose the "employer" contribution is non-sense; and mis-leading. It's a distraction to change the attention away from the failure of the Republican Party to actually have a plan after 7 years of pushing a slogan. The problem is cost, it's not the mandate, it's not the minimal coverage standards, it's the cost of an Epi-Pen and the cost of a hip replacement. Stop falling for the distraction and falsehood that there is an easy fix. Taking the employer supplement away, even from a do-nothing Congress is a bad step and a slippery slope that could have more negative consequences for all of us!

Referring to RI's "quartet" in Congress, Mr. Ward says: "(And they wonder why they were taken out by “the deplorables” last fall...)"

In reality the Republicans LOST two seats in the Senate in 2016, and six seats in the House. So I doubt the quartet wonders anything of the kind.

A prototype of the ACA - "Romneycare" - has worked fairly well in next-door Massachusetts ever since it was championed by a certain Republican governor there over a decade ago.