When then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) was leading the push to pass the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” she declared that Congress would have to “pass the bill so that you [the American people] can find out what’s in it.”
Once everyone started finding out what was in it, the people who knowingly voted for it without knowing what was in it started singing a very different tune.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) referred to her vote for Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare as a “big gamble,” though her website claims that Obamacare is “already benefitting families, seniors, young people, and small businesses up and down the Central Coast and across the country.”
NBC’s Tucson affiliate reports that newly elected Rep. Ron Barber (D-Arizona) says “he’ll seek changes” to Obamacare.
Iowa Democratic candidate Christie Vilsack has refused to take a position on the health care bill, saying, “I’m not for it or against it.”
Nevada congressional candidate John Oceguera, a Democrat, has declined to say whether he supports the federal health care law.
Why are so many Democrats, even some in Congress, distancing themselves from Obamacare?
For them, that’s like asking: How do you defend the indefensible?
That’s the question many members of Congress who voted for Obamacare are asking themselves on the eve of the United States’ Supreme Court decision.
How did what was supposed to be their biggest public policy achievement turn into such a public policy disaster?
The warning signs were there.
On one hand, President Barack Obama was labeling this as a “reform” bill that would “bring down premiums” and make “health care more affordable.” He forcefully said that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”
Well, two years later, the American people have discovered what was in the bill:
● $2.6 trillion: The true cost of Obamacare once fully implemented (Source: Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
● $575 billion: Medicare cuts in Obamacare (Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS])
● $525 billion: Taxes raised in Obamacare (Source: CBO)
● $401 billion: Increase in federal entitlement spending from Obamacare (Source: CBO)
● $145 billion: Cost of Obamacare cuts to Medicare Advantage (Source: CMS)
● $4.5 billion: Tax on retirees’ prescription drug plans (Source: JCT)
● 78 million: Americans forced to find other sources of health insurance (Source: Kaiser Health News)
● 6 million: Retirees that will lose prescription drug coverage (Source: CMS)
It’s clear that this was a gamble that the American people couldn’t afford.
It’s clear that this was a gamble that the millions of seniors who depend on Medicare couldn’t afford.
It’s clear that this was a gamble that the millions of retirees who struggle to afford their prescription drug plans couldn’t afford.
Having an affordable and reliable health care plan is something that every American family needs. It’s something that is far too important to carelessly roll the dice on, hoping the right numbers come up.
The American people deserve better than that. They deserve representatives who when confronted with one of the most significant public policy decisions in history, take the time to understand what’s in the bill before they blindly vote for it.
Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides on Thursday, the verdict from the American people is in and couldn’t be more definitive: stop gambling with health care in America.
Abel Maldonado is the former lieutenant governor of California and is a candidate for Congress in California’s 24th Congressional District.