Horowitz: Do the Right Thing - Fix Obamacare
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Senator McCain, in the statement he released after his pivotal vote, pointed the way: “We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation's governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve."
Predictably, so far, President Trump is not heeding McCain’s wise advice, threatening to compound his own political difficulties by withdrawing subsidies for the individual health insurance markets, which would ensure that he owns the resulting steep premium increases and market chaos. “Letting Obamacare fail” as the President often pronounces would not only be irresponsible given the harm it would cause so many Americans; it would inflict major political damage on the President and Republican members of Congress. You can count on most Americans not appreciating President Trump brazenly playing political games with people’s ability to access quality health care—which is sometimes a matter of life and death.
There is a better way, if President Trump is willing to fundamentally change course, and fulfill his campaign promise that everyone would be insured and have access to great health care. It means building a completely different legislative coalition that includes Democrats, along with moderate Republicans and pragmatic conservatives around incremental legislation to fix Obamacare.
This is an achievable goal policy wise that can be accomplished by minimizing risks for health insurance companies through a reinsurance fund and increasing—not lowering-- government subsidies. Taken together, these measures will stabilize the health insurance market and put the brakes on big premium increases. This can be combined with experimenting with allowing health insurance to be bought across state lines and permitting small businesses to join large health care purchasing pools to give them more leverage in the market.
This is a politically smart move for the President as a majority of Americans now approve of Obamacare, while less than 1-in-5 approve of so-called “Trumpcare or Ryancare.” Underlying these results, as I argued in a recent column, is the fact than 6-in-10 Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, as opposed to less than 4-in -10 who say this should not be the government’s responsibility, according to a recent Pew Poll. This reflects a marked increase in the percentage of Americans who now believe that providing health insurance is an affirmative duty of the government.
If President Trump cannot be convinced to change course, it is time for Senators and House members in both parties to take matters into their own hands. There is a bi-partisan majority that can be assembled for repairing and reforming Obamacare. But it will take courageous leaders from both sides of the aisle; principled legislators devoted to a compromise that serves the best interests of the nation and whom are willing to defy the loudest voices in their respective bases to get it done.
Let’s hope either President Trump and/ or a critical mass of legislators step-up and prove that Churchill is still right. For many Americans, their access to quality and affordable health care depends on it.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates.
Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump’s Budget - 2017
"Rhode Island is making strong progress to provide our people with the education and job training they need to be successful and to expand access to affordable, quality health care to virtually everyone in our state.
President Trump's budget betrays Rhode Islanders by giving huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans while drastically reducing federal funding for vital programs that create jobs, raise wages, and protect low-income Americans.
Even as we analyze President Trump's budget in the coming days to determine its specific impacts on Rhode Island, I appreciate the members of Rhode Island's Congressional Delegation for their leadership and advocacy, and I join them in calling on their colleagues in Washington, D.C. to stop the Trump administration from making massive cuts to health care, public schools, affordable housing, and other programs that Rhode Islanders rely upon."
“In March, President Trump released a budget outline that I strongly condemned for its drastic cuts to programs that help everyday Americans. Unfortunately, the President’s full budget proposal continues these harmful policies by gutting programs that invest in our economy, create jobs and provide crucial assistance to families across the country.
This proposal slashes funding for education, food assistance and health care for low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities. It makes cuts to worker training, environmental protection, and investments in medical research and advanced manufacturing. These are not mere luxuries, but programs that make meaningful differences in the lives of Rhode Islanders.
Congress must reject this cynical and misguided budget. Instead, we should work together in a bipartisan manner, as we did on the recently passed 2017 funding bill, to find a balanced approach to funding priorities that will support families, promote economic growth and provide for our national security.”
“If a budget is a statement of your priorities and values, then Donald Trump’s budget shows he doesn’t understand the challenges facing honest, hardworking Rhode Islanders. This is a budget written by the wealthiest Americans for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But it’s a setback for the middle class. It makes life harder for anyone who’s trying to punch a ticket to the middle class.”
Donald Trump has already proposed a huge tax cut for billionaires. But the budget he released today says everyone else is on their own. This budget eliminates hundreds of millions of dollars for job creation. It zeroes out funding for workforce training and good-paying manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island. And it makes it even harder for young people to succeed by cutting teacher training, eliminating afterschool funding, and making it harder to pay off student loans.”
This budget does nothing to address Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure. It eliminates the TIGER grant program, which is critical to supporting local infrastructure projects like the new commuter rail station in Pawtucket. And it cuts funding for public transit by $928 million.”
And most worrisome of all, this budget makes our towns and cities less safe. It actually cuts funding for firefighters. It cuts billions from the EPA and other resources to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. And it slashes $978 million from the Army Corps of Engineers – meaning Rhode Island will be less prepared for hurricanes and have fewer resources to protect the quality of our waterways.”
Plain and simple, this is not a budget that any Member of Congress should be comfortable supporting. Along with my colleagues in the House Democratic Leadership, I will do everything I can to reverse these devastating cuts and shape a budget that invests in the future of our country and puts honest, hardworking families first.”
“This budget is reckless, plain and simple. The President proposes massive cuts to Medicaid, breaking yet another campaign promise. He seeks to decimate the federal government’s central command in the battle against the opioid crisis affecting communities from Burrillville to Westerly. He pursues tens of billions of dollars in cuts to student loans and loan forgiveness programs.
His plan would slash funding for research into life-saving cures; lay waste to endowments that support Rhode Island’s world-class cultural institutions; hamstring the EPA so big polluters can poison our air and water; and weaken NOAA, sapping critical resources for coastal economies like Rhode Island’s. The list goes on.
These senseless, irresponsible choices serve one purpose: to pave the way for tax cuts for the very wealthiest. The good news is that this extremist proposal will go nowhere in the Senate. I look forward to moving past this political stunt of a budget and working on one the American people will support.”
“President Trump’s budget is bad news for Rhode Island because it weakens our economy and places new burdens on families, businesses, and communities across the country.
The Trump budget takes a less is more approach: less investment in education, health care, transportation and safety for the general public and more pollution, outsourcing jobs overseas, and tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected.
This irresponsible budget would be a real setback for middle-class families and seniors in particular. The $800 billion in Medicaid cuts could cause over 10 million low-income Americans to lose their health coverage. If this budget were enacted, more elderly Americans could be forced to go from assisted living to living on the streets. That is immoral and ill-advised.
The Trump cuts also threaten federal funding for public education, medical research, job training and economic development. These cuts are counterproductive and won’t achieve real cost-savings. In fact, they would impede economic growth.
Families with limited incomes who are trying to make ends meet get hit hardest by the Trump budget. It takes food, health care, and retirement security away from children, seniors, and people with disabilities while adding funds for an ineffective border wall and tax cuts for millionaires. It eliminates the LIHEAP energy assistance program, Community Development Block Grants, and many other critical, cost-effective programs that have a positive impact on Rhode Island.
While our military deserves to be well-funded, cutting diplomacy and foreign aid won’t help prevent war. These are the wrong priorities for America and don’t reflect our core values.
I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight these disastrous cuts and enact a more balanced, fiscally responsible budget that focuses on job creation and strengthening the middle-class.”
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