Does the GOP want to repeal Obamacare? Take them literally and seriously | Wednesday Morning Coffee

If you care about your healthcare bills, you need to care about this

March 23, 2022 7:12 am

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 22: Demonstrators protest changes to the Affordable Care Act on June 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Senate Republican’s unveiled their revised health-care bill in Washington today, after fine tuning it in behind closed doors. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Victoria Schiano’s son, Cole, is five-and-a-half. And he’s enduring what no kid his age should ever be asked to endure.

He has mitochondrial disease, lives with a a central line to his heart, and has a feeding tube connected to his stomach and his intestines. He also needs constant monitoring for his seizure disorder. He has anxiety. And he’s on the autism spectrum.

Schiano, of Downingtown, is her son’s primary caregiver. And that’s made it hard for her to hold a job, she said Tuesday during a press call organized by Pennsylvania Democrats.

But because of the Affordable Care Act, and its cost-saving measures and patient protection language, Schiano, and her husband Ryan, can shoulder the “hospital-level of care” that their son requires.

“Healthcare for Cole means he gets to be home with his family where he belongs, instead of a facility miles away,” Schiano said.”The Affordable Care Act has allowed for him to be home.”

With the midterm elections just months away, and control of Capitol Hill on the line, Republicans are making fresh noises about an assault on the Obama-era law, which turns 12 years old this week.

More than a decade on from its introduction, and its successful passage into law, hundreds of millions of Americans have since benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s ban on the denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions, as well as a Medicaid expansion that has benefited tens of millions more people.

That includes Pennsylvania, where 992,000 people were enrolled in the expansion as of April 2021, A total of 3.3 million people who were enrolled in Medicaid and the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program during that same time period, data showed.

While it had a troubled adolescence, the law has only grown in popularity, with a clear majority of Americans (55 percent) telling Kaiser Health they supported the law in 2020 as the U.S. Supreme Court took up a challenge to the law, Forbes reported. That included Republicans who favored the preexisting condition ban.

But that has not proven an impediment for the GOP, which remains as steadfast in its opposition as ever — even if it cost them the U.S. House in 2018.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., whom I’m convinced most often says things just to hear himself talk, was forced to backtrack in the face of scorching criticism after he told Breitbart News that repealing the ACA should be a priority for Republicans if they won back Congress and the White House in 2024, the Washington Post reported.

While Johnson said he supports fixing the nation’s healthcare system, he was not suggesting that “repealing and replacing Obamacare should be one of [the GOP’s] priorities,” the Guardian reported.

Nonetheless, this is an instance where (to borrow a phrase) Republicans need to be taken both literally and seriously.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 26, 2022 in Orlando, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

The head of the Senate Republicans’ campaign wing, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, of Florida, already has rolled out a stupendously wrong-headed policy agenda that takes a sledgehammer to the nation’s social safety net, even as it raises taxes on the poorest Americans.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said no such plan will pass while he’s running the Senate GOP. An additional fringe benefit — Republicans also have proven almost comically incompetent at actually coming up with a replacement for the healthcare law.

You’ll recall that former President Donald Trump spent almost the entirety of his presidency promising that a “phenomenal” replacement was mere weeks away, but never actually delivered on it. In the end, he settled for an executive order rebranding it, the Post reported.

But the fact that Republicans are talking seriously about this is worrying enough. Even if it faces a guaranteed White House veto, it’s not hard to imagine reinvigorated GOP majorities in the House and Senate trying to repeal the law in 2023, even as they work to stymie President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda heading into 2024.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, on a 11/10/21 conference call put together by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, touting the benefits of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill (Screen Capture)

Hence this week’s press call, one of the many that Democrats have been holding over the past few months to tout the components of Biden’s agenda — from jobs and COVID to infrastructure and school funding  — as they try to rally Democrats ahead of a tough campaign season.

“We know that Pennsylvanians and all Americanas need support, and that they  want leaders who will work tirelessly to improve their lives,” U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, whose Lehigh Valley-based seat is a takeover target for the GOP, said Tuesday. ” … A Republican majority would be devastating for Americans.”

State Rep. Bridget M. Kosierowski, a Scranton-area Democrat who’s the House’s only nurse, issued a similarly dire warning, saying “no legislator or candidate should every put forth an agenda that dismantles” the law.

Kosierowski, whose son fought leukemia as a child, said she was moved to run in 2018 after the GOP launched its assault on Obamacare in that contentious midterm year.

The law “has transformed the American healthcare system,” she said, adding that Republicans should ” … stop [their] outrageous threats.”

The pandemic, which cost us so much, underlined the importance of the nation’s healthcare system. And so many sick Americans were able to obtain treatment because of the coverage they had through the Affordable Care Act.

What has happened once can happen again. That’s reason enough to take GOP threats literally and seriously. And it’s reason enough to make sure they do not prevail.

A toll both on the PA Turnpike.(Photo by Doug Kerr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons/City & State Pa.).

Our Stuff.
When paper tickets disappeared from toll booth plazas along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in June 2020, so did any visual record of toll rates at the toll road’s entrance and exit junctions, Cassie Miller reports.

Four of the leading Republican gubernatorial candidates have signed a letter to “the Pennsylvania press” laying out conditions for them to participate in a primary election debate this year, Stephen Caruso reports.

Lawmakers in the state Senate have unveiled a bipartisan plan to prevent abuse within the state’s legal guardianship systemMarley Parish reports.

The state agency that oversees Pennsylvania’s 2.2 million acres of state forest lands is warning residents to be cautious of increased risk of wildfires as spring continues, Cassie Miller also reports.

Pennsylvania’s cannabis prohibition laws are among the worst in the country, according to a new report by the Marijuana Policy Project, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity’s office is holding an online auction of unclaimed property this week, our partners at the Philadaelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Opinion regular Mark O’Keefe wonders if the Legislature will ever get serious about property tax reform. And affordable housing is harder to find, leaving renters asking: ‘Where do we go?’ an American University scholar writes.

Temple University in Philadelphia (Image via Temple University/The Philadelphia Tribune).

International students are driving an admissions bump at Temple University and other Philly schools, the Inquirer reports.

Homewood residents talked with Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey about addressing violence problems, the Post-Gazette reports.

Calls to ban smoking in Pennsylvania’s casinos are growing louder. Will it actually happen? PennLive considers the odds.

The Elizabethtown Area School Board has voted against making draconian cuts, LancasterOnline reports.

The pedestrian killed in the I-95 crash that also claimed the lives of two Pennsylvania State Police troopers was from Allentown, the Morning Call reports. The driver in the deadly incident has been charged with DUI and homicide.

Luzerne County Council has put off a vote on the appointment of a new county manager, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Penn State University has lifted its indoor mask mandateWPSU-FM reports (via WITF-FM).

GoErie looks at local Ukraine relief efforts.

Cities and towns across Pennsylvania are electing women mayors at record rates, City & State Pa. reports.

Special elections in a pair of House seats are just weeks awayPoliticsPA reports. looks at how small restaurants are faring as the pandemic ebbs — and what state governments are doing to help them.

Congressional whistleblower protections only go so far, Roll Call reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day.


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What Goes On
9 a.m., 515 Irvis: Local Government Commission
10 a.m., Senate Majority Caucus Room: Capitol Preservation Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Mike Schlossberg 
3:30 p.m.: Reception for Dr. Nche Zama
Hit both events, and give at the max, and you’re out at least $5,000 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf so far has no public schedule today. That is sometimes subject to change.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s an old favorite from Pete Townshend for your hump day. It’s ‘Let My Love Open the Door.’ It still sounds so good.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Carolina Hurricanes snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday night, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 at home at PNC Bank Arena.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.