President Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act in Washington, Thursday, July 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Say someone blows the wheels off a moving train and blames the accident on whoever built the engine. Fair game?
That’s precisely what Republicans are up to with their onslaught against Obamacare. Their tactics go well beyond political opposition: as others have pointed out, what’s happening now is deliberate sabotage of a duly enacted and Supreme Court–affirmed law. This morning Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, called the GOP’s efforts to block the implementation of the law “unprecendented” and “sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing.”
The GOP has a narrowing window in which to wreck the rollout and blame structural deficiencies in the law, and they’re intent on smashing their way through it. Not only are they sacrificing the well-being of millions of Americans—now they’re gambling the global economy, too.
Here’s a blueprint for the GOP’s sabotage act, which runs the gamut from spreading half-truths to, as John Boehner himself put it, “risk[ing] the full faith and credit of the United States.”
Refuse to expand Medicaid
The Supreme Court’s ruling last year gave states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, which is one of the most significant pieces of the ACA in terms of the impact it will have on the uninsured and its importance to the overall success of the law. More than twenty states—most fully controlled by Republicans in the legislature and the governor’s office—are denying some of the neediest Americans care by refusing to expand the program. Some 9.7 million of the 15 million potentially eligible adults live in states that are refusing to expand or have not indicated whether they will do so.
Refuse to create state insurance exchanges
More than half the states have declined to establish their own insurance marketplaces. All but six are run by Republican governors and a Republican-majority legislature. Residents will still be able to buy insurance through the federal exchange, but without cooperation and promotion from state officials, it will be more difficult to reach the uninsured.
Waste time and money voting for repeal
In the past three years, House Republicans have devoted at least 15 percent of their time on the House floor trying to ruin the ACA, voting thirty-nine times to repeal, defund or delay the law. These legislative efforts have cost taxpayers upward of $50 million. Meanwhile, the GOP hasn’t offered any alternative healthcare plans of its own. These votes present no existential threat to the law, since repeal will never get through the Senate or the White House. But repeated attacks reinforce the idea that the ACA is still up for debate and that its future is uncertain. As of April, four in ten Americans were unaware that the ACA is the law and that it is being implemented.