Joco Opinion

Bob Sigman: GOP needs to drop Obamacare obsession

No matter how many times the U.S. House of Representatives votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the outcome will be the same. Failure.

First, despite many votes for repeal by the Republican-controlled House, the legislation has never cleared both houses of Congress.

Second, had Congress passed a bill, it would have faced certain veto by President Barack Obama.

Third, there are simply not enough votes to override his veto.

That is stark reality and will be as long as Obama is president.

Yet, within hours after the Supreme Court’s decision on the ACA in June, Republicans resumed their calls for repeal or a new law.

Listen to U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican, in comments in a story distributed by the Kansas Health Institute’s news service.

After 58 votes to repeal Obamacare in part or in whole, he said, the Republican leadership should work to “put a full repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk.” Or perhaps a “patient-centered replacement.”

Neither approach appears to be a viable alternative. At this point, millions already rely on Obamacare for their health insurance coverage.

A more constructive tone was struck in the health care sector here, where on-the-ground implementation of the ACA is moving forward.

Bridget McCandless, president and CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, welcomed the 6-3 ruling that upholds federal tax subsidies for health care insurance purchased through federally operated marketplaces, such as the one in Kansas.

The court’s finding enables about 70,000 Kansas residents to continue to have access to health care services. According to information compiled by the Kansas Health Institute, up to 19,000 Johnson County residents will continue to be eligible for premium tax credits to help them pay for health insurance.

“We celebrate today’s (June 25) decision and the reassurance that many hardworking members of our community can now take the worry of health care insurance off their plate,” McCandless said.

Had the court ruled against the ACA, many Kansans, some of whom had not been insured in the past, faced losing their coverage.

“It would have created chaos in the marketplace,” said Sandy Praeger, former Kansas insurance commissioner and longtime advocate of the ACA.

As it is, the court preserved an effective program, in the opinion of Denise Cyzman, executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, based in Topeka.

“The decision affirms what we have already known,” Cyzman said. “The ACA works, allowing many Kansans to finally have access to affordable health care insurance.”

Even though last month’s decision keeps the ACA in place, the legal fight is far from over; litigation is still being pursued in the lower courts.

Meanwhile, the Republicans should quit wasting time on a repeal and get to work on improving an act that is not likely to go away.

Freelance columnist Bob Sigman, a former member of The Star’s Editorial Board, writes monthly.