As a former elected representative, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out just what the masses I was supposed to represent were thinking. I’ll admit, a lot of the time I thought their thinking didn’t make a lot of sense, but I still thought it was my duty to understand their thinking. If you think of representative government as a contest of opposing or varied ideas, and the election winner takes the trophy (“Elections have consequences” Barack Obama 2009), then understanding the thinking of those you represent is wasted time; just vote for those who elected you, not the people you represent. I just didn’t see the job that way. Maybe that’s why I didn’t last long.
So, I am currently struggling to understand just what Americans, but more Idahoans, my neighbors want from health care. Help me out.
A recent poll showed most people don’t want the Affordable Care Act’s protections of “preexisting conditions” repealed. That means, if you have a preexisting (expensive) health condition, health insurance companies can’t refuse to sell you insurance or increase your rates based on their assessment of your future risk to their bottom line. Even 66% of Republicans (91% of Democrats) thought the preexisting condition protection should be maintained.
But if asked more broadly, “should the ACA be repealed”, 76% of Republicans said YES! REPEAL!
So please, tell me: what are you thinking?
This is of course made more critical in the coming election, but also the Supreme Court appointment shooting through the Senate like goose droppings. The hope from Trump, and I guess, from Republicans, is that the nominee can sit for and vote on the case that will be heard a week after the election brought by Republican state attorneys general and supported by our Presidents Department of Justice. The suit asks to declare the ACA unconstitutional, even though they have zeroed out the individual mandate penalty in their “Billionaires Benefits Tax Bill”.
Some Republicans want to distance themselves from the possibility that the preexisting conditions limitations might disappear. They argue that through “severability” SCOTUS can wipe out some of the ACA, but not the other parts that we like. I find it fascinating that these elected representatives want appointed-for-life judges, not accountable to the voters, to be making these decisions. It’s like they’re afraid to have the discussion. Is that possible?
So, I want to ask you, my Republican neighbors, to answer some questions: just what should healthcare look like in this country? Can you please give me a clue?
I have spent a short time reading the National Republican Platform, and a little longer reading the Idaho one. In short, the National platform says, “whatever Trump says”. But the state one is a bit more specific, even if it’s on page 10, after Article 12 (Economy) and before article 14 (American Family). Maybe 13 is health care’s lucky number for Idaho Republicans.
I encourage you to read this platform that 80% of Idaho legislators endorse. It could explain why we aren’t talking about this problem. It pretty much says, health care should be affordable, government shouldn’t regulate things, and people should be responsible for their own health.
So, I think Idaho Republicans are telling me the next time I’m in a hurry and fall off a ladder and end up a quadriplegic, I should have been more responsible. I agree, I shouldn’t have been in a hurry, I contributed to my injury, but I now must sell my house if I want to keep alive? What if I’d been T-boned by a drunk driver? No mercy there either I guess.
This is a tough discussion. We should be having it with our elected representatives.
If the Idaho Republican solution to our health care dilemma is to go back to the 19th century, I can’t support it. But I’d sure appreciate a discussion.
Dan Schmidt is a family physician who lives in Moscow. Dr. Schmidt, a Democrat, served in the Idaho state senate from 2010 to 2016.