The Republicans don't seem to learn.
Even as the Affordable Care Act enrollment website gradually improves -- and people like Muriel Hassell of Bryant, Ala., in Jackson County, say they will keep on trying to enroll and find plans that fit them and their budgets -- the GOP keeps piling on and taking to the airwaves to spread misinformation and disparagement.
While GOPers droned on in Congressional hearings for two days about the Wizard of Oz (Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius grew up in Kansas), it became apparent that Republicans know they can't win this, but don't want to help fix any problems -- even minor ones -- that might help the country. Why? Because doing so might also help the president and the Democrats. The funny thing is, the Republicans already have helped by making themselves downright repugnant to the nation's increasingly diverse voters. Instead of appealing to youth, women, immigrants and the down-trodden middle class, the GOP instead cuts them at every opportunity.
Obamacare is just one example, but it is a telling one that hits at all of the groups the GOP should be trying to attract.
Instead, the GOP's leaders plug their ears against the experiences of people like Chattanoogan David Yoder and North Alabamian Muriel Hassell.
Yoder has managed to successfully enroll in Obamacare, and he is happy with his new plan that is both more affordable and more comprehensive than what he had before.
Hassell persevered through the early trouble with the HealthCare.gov exchanges website until she was able to download a paper application. She has been covered once before in Massachusetts under Romneycare, a model for Obamacare, and she liked it.
She told Times Free Press reporter Kate Harrison that she had originally been a critic of Romneycare, worrying about price hikes, swamped doctors' offices and freeloaders. But Hassell ended up getting a Massachusetts plan that covered her whole family, and it was affordable -- unlike plans she has shopped for here in the tri-state region since she moved South.
Oddly, Mitt Romney, who campaigned for president on the successes of Romneycare, now is trying to distance himself from Obamacare and any discussion of its similarities to the Massachusetts program. This week he even denied that he had ever called Romneycare a model. But television stations found the tapes of those campaign speeches, and yes, he did tout it as something that should be applied nationwide.
Republicans -- especially the radical right-wingers -- are decrying the fact that private insurance plans not living up to the standard set by Obamacare are being cancelled. BlueCross BlueShield is dropping 66,000 of its 106,000 individual policies that are substandard -- they don't cover the 10 essential benefits that Obamacare requires, such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment and maternity care.
Think of these deficient health care plans as Ford Pintos. Yes, the old Pintos did start, stop and run. But they also sometimes exploded when another car hit them from behind. Would Republicans wail and moan and throw up their hands and call for resignations of those trying to get an unsafe car off the road? Of course not. They'd be having congressional hearings to find out why the car was dangerous in the first place.But now no one seems to be calling for investigations into why health plans were not fully protective.
And think about what you're not hearing from Republicans: Insurance companies can't drop you if you get really sick or deny you coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
Instead, the so-called 27 moderate Senate Republicans who voted with the Democrats to end the Great Shutdown and to avoid the debt ceiling that would put the nation in default, have now cast another vote to -- get this -- disapprove of themselves for that vote. Those 27 include Tennessee's Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.
What's their real regret: Saving the country or giving radical right-wingers something to target them on?
Clearly the GOP is flailing for any corner to madly fire from and take cover in. It is the clearest sign yet that all the screaming about Obamacare is simply to make noise so that Obama might not drift to approval by virtue of the affordable health care and portable insurance for everyone.
Sen. Harry Reid summed it up Wednesday: "The Republican Party is staggering right now. ... They've gone after everybody. ... I don't know who they can expect to have a vote for them."
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