Politics as usual

By Denis Storey


Believe it or not, Democrats and Republicans are still fighting over a group of people some would argue neither have cared about for decades.

Last week, I brought up a bill Republicans are trying to push through that would bail out the so-called “uninsurables fund.” And, honestly, could you make a group sound any more depressing?

It’s a stopgap fund, dubbed The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, meant to cover those no one will cover now but won’t be covered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until January.

But the thing is, the Obama administration didn’t do a very good job of paying for it, since the fund ran dry a full year early.

At any rate, House Republicans tried to stopgap the stop gap.

You’d think the president would be pleased, right? Think again. All the president’s men cried foul, accusing the Republicans of repealing part of the original law. This stems from the part of the bill that wants to stop the gap with cash — about $800 million worth — from somewhere else, a disease prevention fund. (Crazy, right? To actually have a plan in place to pay for the legisaltion you’re proposing?)

The president himself got so fired up he offered up a rare veto threat, insisting that if the bill made it to his desk, it wouldn’t get any farther.

I’d like to actually quote the latest AP story here, because it perfectly — and sadly — sums up the debate.

“Health and Human Services, in its breakdown of the prevention program, said that among its allocations in 2012 were $91 million for immunization, $60 million for tobacco use prevention and $146 million to support community-level efforts to reduce chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in turn, said the fund provided grants for kickboxing and Zumba, bike lanes, pet neutering and urban gardening.”

Well, don’t worry about pigs flying or cats sleeping with dogs, because the GOP effort fizzled out today after withering attacks from both the left and the right. Of course, the Dems accused the Republicans of trying undermine PPACA entirely, while the hard-core righties bristled at any perceived expansion of Obamacare, even if it meant a reasoned contraction elsewhere.

So, in the end, I guess I was wrong, because the fight became less about those poor uninsurables and more about politics — and deficits — as usual.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com