You already know that the enemies of Obamacare have had 7 years to come up their alternative plans that would improve, repair, or replace the Affordable Care Act, but that they didn’t use their time to actually have one in hand with the opportunity arose. But, what many people don’t know is that there is a deadline approaching that was just extended from May 3 to June 21 – and that’s still not a lot of time to prepare.
What’s worse is that, in addition to Republicans having few, if any truly innovative ideas, that the opportunity for constituencies to voice their ideas to their representatives is even more limited. While Town Halls are favored, what we’ve witnessed this week may have been cathartic to some, it’s mostly futile venting from an objective perspective.
And, while there are signs that these Town Halls have delivered a clear message to Republicans that in spite of repeating that some majority was represented by electing President Trump and that they clearly wanted to repeal Obamacare, the fact that few of these folks showed up to counter the overwhelming protests of repeal without a replacement following on its heels has, in fact, moved Republicans towards other alternatives.
What I’m here to tell you is that you don’t have as long as you think to form your own opinion and articulate it if you want it to influence the outcome of this debate. I’m going to argue that you have, at most, 3 months, and perhaps as little as 6 weeks to act. Otherwise, you’ll risk have another flawed design leading to another several years of frustration.
On June 21, Health Insurance Companies have to submit their plans with pricing to authorities for the 2018 calendar year. If they are uncertain about what Republicans are going to do, it may be in their financial best interest to pull out of health insurance markets created by the ACA altogether. And, we all know they aren’t going to act altruistically if there is chaos.
While there will be necessary action in both the House and the Senate, there are other priorities. Leaving the unpredictable aspects of the investigations into Russian influence in our elections to the side, there will be a healthy debate surrounding the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. And, given the contentiousness in general, that healthy debate is likely to run long, and eventually will become sick and/or twisted.
In order for there to be any opportunity for citizens to engage, in particular, their Senators, we have to look at their calendar between now and then. There’s a short recess March 16-17, and then a longer one April 10-21. There’s another short one May 29-June 2, but it’s likely too late at that point to influence anything that would make it to the floor in time for a vote that would then give insurance companies enough time to digest and react.
We could literally spook the insurance companies out of the market with inaction.
No one really knows what will happen, but I’m advocating that we immediately begin organizing on local levels to form clear opinions about what we collectively want – and then network and interact with other groups to gauge where the mandates really are. This must be communicated clearly to GOP Reps and Senators – preferably face to face at Town Halls.
If the best window is in Mid-April, then we really don’t have much time at all. We must simultaneously form our opinions and organize them while pushing for Town Halls, even if they are digital for inclusiveness.
It’s imperative that we do not delay so we do not regress. Spread the word!