Why the Republicans really hate Obamacare
March 31 was the official deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage for 2014 to avoid being fined under the Affordable Care Act. If you started the process a minute before midnight, experienced website difficulties, received misinformation from an ACA representative or fall under any of the other exceptions categories, you still have time to sign up without being fined, even though the official deadline has passed. Essentially, this means the deadline has been extended and an end date will be announced once the Obama administration has gauged how many people have signed up for exemptions.
When the extension was announced, Republicans were furious. “What the hell is this? A joke?” House Speaker John Boehner asked, whose face was probably red with anger underneath his everlasting orange tan. The deadline extension, he went on to say, is just another way the administration is “manipulating the laws for its own convenience.”
Boehner’s opinion on Obamacare is largely the opinion of the entire Republican Party. Having voted 50 times to change Obamacare under Boehner’s speakership, Republicans have had no trouble voicing their disapproval of the law.
Many of them claim it’ll destroy the economy by killing jobs – not true. Some say it’s going to destroy America – extreme and also (probably) not true. Others say it’s illegal – well, not according to the Supreme Court.
So if none of these reasons hold up quite as well as they’d like, why do Republicans actually hate Obamacare and why are they really so angry about the deadline extension? Simple: They care more about destroying an Obama administration policy than giving poor, uninsured people health care coverage, and they should just say so instead of insulting us by claiming otherwise.
To illustrate this point, we need simply to turn to Jennifer Stefano, Pennsylvania director for the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, and her most recent appearance on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes.”
Hayes starts off by asking her a simple question: Why should people care about the ACA deadline extension? In an attempt to answer, Stefano gets angry and loud, spouting off all the necessary buzzwords that will fulfill her role as an Obamacare-opponent. Her argument was uninformed and underprepared, but the takeaway was her supposed concern that not enough uninsured people were signing up for health care.
That’s where it gets interesting. As Hayes points out, the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare is how most of the uninsured will become insured. Why then, he asks, are most Republican governors opposed to raising the Medicaid eligibility from 100 percent of the poverty line to 133 percent so “some working poor can get some health insurance?”
Stefano answers by not answering at all. She makes the absolutely false claim that Medicaid expansion would cover people making up to $94,000 a year, yells about how she definitely cares about poor people, then ends the interview by telling Hayes how sad it was that he undermined her opinion as a woman.
Stefano was the perfect rightwing mouthpiece. She said things like “taking choices away” and “the President lied to us,” phrases that are easy for people to believe regardless of how accurate they are. She talked past Hayes, deflecting all of his questions and using the airtime to exemplify the behavior of the majority of conservative Republicans concerning Obamacare. There was no way she could come right out and say they don’t support Medicaid expansion because they genuinely don’t care enough about it, but really, she didn’t have to.
So, the Republicans are angry: About the deadline extension, about Medicaid expansion and about the ACA in general. Their oppositional arguments – its “lawlessness,” the havoc it will wreak on small businesses, the inevitable destruction of America – are all just talking points. What they really care about is repealing Obamacare, and they care about it more than they care about giving people affordable health insurance.
This is evident in the polls that show a higher rate of Republican support for Obamacare provisions only when labeled “The Affordable Care Act.” It is evident in the lack of viable alternative health care options proposed by Republicans. It is evident in the majority of Republican governors who don’t want to expand Medicaid, effectively denying the working poor a chance at affordable health care.
The truth of the matter is, though they may claim to like the idea of giving people affordable health insurance, they don’t quite like it (or anything, for that matter) as much as destroying Obamacare and winning their own manufactured battle.
There is good news, however. As of April 1, over 7 million people have enrolled for private health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the number will continue to grow because of the deadline extension. It would be naive to think that there aren’t millions more who haven’t yet signed up that could benefit from it as well. The Republicans’ hate campaign against Obamacare solely seeks to repeal at all costs, with no regard for those, including those 7 million people, who are obviously in need of affordable healthcare.
The most important thing to remember, whether you agree with all aspects of the ACA or not, is that granting people access to low-cost health coverage is simply the right thing to do. Republican efforts to take it away are a shameful display of selfishness and spite.
Jillian Correira is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.