The healthcare test for Rep. Stefanik: First do no harm

Elise Stefanik. Image: Campaign website

Elise Stefanik. Image: Campaign website

UpdateElise Stefanik’s press aide, Tom Flanagin, has reached out to the In Box to point out that the congresswoman explained her vote in a Facebook post, which I hadn’t seen when writing this essay.

“I am pleased that this vote today requires the House to develop an alternative approach to the President’s healthcare law,” she wrote.  Rep. Stefanik praised the legislation for including a list of specific agenda items for what a replacement for the Affordable Care Act might look like.

To be clear, however, the bill which passed the House (HR 596) doesn’t mandate any timeline for House committees producing such a replacement piece of legislation, not does it offer any specificity for what a bill or multiple bills might look like. 

PREVIOUSLY

Earlier this month, when Republicans prepared to vote yet again on repeal of the Affordable Care Act, New York Congressman John Katko made it clear that, in his view, the ground in the healthcare debate has shifted.

“During the course of my campaign I said that I think Obamacare is a mess and I think you have to use the word ‘train wreck’ quite a bit,” Katko said, according to the Auburn Citizen newspaper.

But the Republican added a point that seems worth dwelling on:  “I still believe that,’ he said.  “But I also said that it would be irresponsible to just vote for repeal of Obamacare without having a viable replacement ready to go.”

Keep that word, irresponsible, in your mind as you work through the rest of this essay.

Here’s the reality Katko is describing.  When Obamacare was first signed into law, it was an abstraction, a policy idea that was – to say the least – deeply controversial and deeply flawed.  But half a decade later, the ACA is simply how we do healthcare in America.

A report issued last week found that roughly 2 million New Yorkers, many of them here in the North Country, now rely directly on the various provisions of Obamacare for their coverage.

Let me say this again more clearly:  More than 10% of New Yorkers rely on the ACA for this most basic of services.  That includes working families, children and business owners.

Independent surveys suggest that 20 million Americans have gained insurance since 2010 because of this one policy, cutting the rate of the uninsured in our society by a third.  That’s not to say that ACA is perfect or the best way for healthcare to be structured in the US.  People across the political spectrum find a great deal to dislike about it, as do many doctors and hospital administrators.

But it is now the system that we have and not merely an expression of Barack Obama’s political brand, or a meme on Fox News or a punching bag for Rush Limbaugh.  Knocking it down without having any actual policy ready to replace it would produce something like chaos.  The truth is, no one’s really sure what would happen.   We’d be flying blind.

Yet last week, Republicans voted nearly unanimously to do just that.  For a 56th time, the GOP tried to yank the plug on the ACA, without having any specific, politically viable idea of how to replace it.

In late January, during a visit to Lake Placid, Rep. Stefanik acknowledged that some kind of plan is needed.  “Republicans have a responsibility to put forth a replacement package,” she said, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.  Yet less than a month later, she voted with the GOP to dismantle Obamacare without any plausible, realistic Plan B on the table.

After half a decade, back to the drawing board?

What’s more, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that a real-world policy proposal will emerge from the Republican side any time soon.  During an appearance late last month on CBS’ news magazine “60 Minutes,” the two most powerful Republicans in the country again trotted out the old complaints about the ACA.

But asked repeatedly how it would be replaced, they fired blanks.

“I just think it’s time for us to look at this differently,” said House Speaker John Boehner.  “We’re working on this, having discussions among our members, we’ve got a lot of divergent views about how best to go back to a doctor patient relationship that’s revered.”

Pressed to be more specific, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again launched an attack against Obamacare.  “We ought to pull it out root and branch and start over,” he said.

But why are Republicans only “starting over” now, half a decade after they decided that the ACA was intolerable and unworkable?  Despite the existence of a vast network of think-tanks and very smart conservative thinkers – including Rep. Stefanik herself – we’re still very close to a complete blank slate in knowing what the GOP would do next.

Moving beyond the back of a napkin stage

To be clear, there are some conservative ideas floating around about possible alternatives to Obamacare.  In fact, there are several rough drafts of plans.  They’ve shifted and evolved and grown, and some of them include some very interesting proposals, including strategies for closing the uninsured gap that don’t include unpopular mandates.   They’re all worth debating and considering.

But good ideas are not good bills.  And good pieces of legislation do not automatically translate into meaningful political action.  In fact, they rarely do.  And so far, the GOP has shown zero willingness to spend their political poker chips to accomplish what the Democrats managed to do in 2010:  That is, actually governing.  Actually pushing through functioning, real-world legislation that might address a huge real-world problem.

Indeed, there’s reason to believe that the GOP may still not be particularly serious about getting this done, that the rough-draft plans now being touted in press releases have more to do with politics than policy.

It’s fair to point out that Republicans find themselves in a strategic and philosophical bind that they hoped desperately to avoid.  As Sen. McConnell acknowledged, perhaps inadvertently, the ACA has put down deep roots and sprouted broad branches.  The policy now directly affects tens of millions of Americans and, through its safe-guard regulations, indirectly affects many tens of millions more.

Obamacare has, in the parlance of diplomacy, become a fact on the ground.  It is how we live our lives.  It is how your neighbors are getting their check-ups, how the college kid who works in your shop in the summer gets his broken leg fixed, and how the small business owner who works out of his home can now afford to pay for her prescription drugs.

Before Republicans – and Rep. Stefanik – vote a 57th time to dismantle the system, they owe it to their constituents to show us they would move forward if this architecture is scrapped.  We get the repeal part.  Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and detail the replace part.

Obviously, those steps are much harder.  And as Speaker Boehner acknowledged, the GOP remains deeply divided on what those next steps should look like.  But that’s what governing is about, especially when you’re the party that controls Congress and when you’re talking about a part of government as central to our moral lives as caring for the sick, the working poor, and the vulnerable.

Looking for Stefanik’s new ideas

For Elise Stefanik, this obligation is a personal one.  She is one of the most compelling new political voices in Washington.  She has made her opposition to Obamacare a central part of her political identity.  And she has repeatedly promised bold new ideas.

So rather than waiting for some kind of consensus to emerge at long last, from her party’s leaders, why not put out her own detailed proposal?  Even if it’s unlikely to pass or be signed into law, it might spark a new conversation.  And it would be reassuring to her constituents, many of whom rely on the ACA.

Some might say that it’s too early.  Rep. Stefanik has only been on the job for a month.  But if she’s prepared to vote to dismantle the ACA, shouldn’t she be prepared to tell us with some detail and with some specificity how she wants to see it replaced?

While we wait for that kind of detailed plan, the stakes keep getting higher.  The current enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act ends Feb. 15th.  It’s likely that millions more will sign up.  For those American, this won’t be a political abstraction or an ideological talking point.

It will be how they care for their kids, their spouses, their employees, and (yes) even for their neighbors and fellow Americans who are in need.   Before Republicans unravel all that, they need to do their homework and show us their math and put a plan on the table that might actually move us toward something better.  To do anything less would be, as Rep. Katko suggests, irresponsible.

 

54 Comments on “The healthcare test for Rep. Stefanik: First do no harm”

  1. Mr. Kent says:

    Once again Stefanik has shown herself to be nothing more than a party puppet. Voting for repeal without a replacement is unconscionable. A total disregard for not only many in her district, but millions across the country. Please explain to them what they would do if we did not have a President who will veto this waste of time, money and energy and had a Republican in the White House who would sign it into law.
    While you are at it Ms. Stefanik, please explain why $80 billion over the next ten years is too much to invest in the community college education and training of our young men and women, but it was not too much for you to vote for $100 billion over the next ten years in favored tax provisions to benefit a small portion of taxpayers by borrowing more money from abroad. All of it added to the deficit with no matching cuts or revenues to pay for it? And for good measure these cuts will be made permanent.
    last year congress passed similar measures that would add $800 billion to the deficit over the next ten years and not one penny of it offset in any way.
    It is a matter of priorities. It is not about money obviously and Elise Stefanik has made her priorities crystal clear.

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    When in doubt or not satisfied with the choices, an elected representative can always vote as many voter do. They don’t have say yes of no. They can abstain.
    Sometimes the only honest answer or vote is to say, “I don’t know.”

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  3. Single payer is the only solution that will provide both decent care for more people and less outrageous costs. But the corporate-owned Republicans AND Democrats will never agree to this. Voters need to send someone else to Congress if they want a rational health care system that serves them rather than insurance companies and hospital execs.

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  4. The Original Larry says:

    You can’t just unilaterally declare “the ACA is simply how we do healthcare in America” and hope that somehow legitimizes a misbegotten, poorly thought out social experiment that should have never seen the light of day. Now, you criticize those who want to undo it as if they somehow caused the problem in the first place. It’s like Obama’s immigration policy, his foreign policy, et al.: sounds great, doesn’t work. Transformational change should be much more than a collection of hare-brained schemes that haven’t a chance of working in the real world. That’s how the ACA got passed in the first place.

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  5. Two Cents says:

    watching boner on video, I am distracted by a thought:
    how does a man get so tan supposedly working day and night in congress to help the American people?
    he should be less concerned with his appearance and more concentrated on work.
    for crist sake he’s george Hamilton’s tan’s doppelganger.

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  6. bill shaver says:

    Chilling comments…can none of them see tha medicare for all would be a growth for buisness in this state of new ytork & the country, ask anyone in buisness how heathcare financing is done in canada, …it would shock you…you’d think the RICCKY BOOBY GOP500 NASCAR RACE could see this..fine repeal the ACa…but Repeal it in favor of medicare for all…then fix pensions, another deterant to buisness & education, infastructure..finally imigration….but do somthing now…all should be wrtiting your elected stste & federal officials about this…

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  7. Mr. Kent says:

    Original Larry: Sorry, but you are factually incorrect. The “problem” was not created by President Obama or Ms. Stefanik. But there was a big problem and a health care system that was breaking businesses and other groups, bankrupting individuals and totally out of control with no oversight.
    During the G.W.Bush administration there was a 20% increase in uninsured Americans. Eight million people lost their health care during those years. With the AFCA 20 million Americans are enrolled and the number increases every month. 60% of those enrolled had NO insurance prior to the AFCA. Those are statistics according to Forbes. NO one has disputed those numbers.
    The reason Ms. Stefanik and the Republicans have not come up with something better is because they cannot come up with something better. If they could they would scream from the mountain tops their better way. That, sir, is logic 101. It would be the best thing they could do for their party now and for the future. The problem for republicans is the AFCA , with a few minor changes, is the best reasonable solution to the problem. Remember, it was the original brain child of the ultra conservative American Heritage Foundation to begin with.
    Stefanik was sent there to help solve problems, not create more of them. Someone should remind her. Not that it is necessarily in line with her goals.
    Perhaps the biggest vote she has taken so far that will negatively affect ” the people” was her vote to remove the restrictions to the Bankers and Wall Street moguls. That same group who undermined the American economy just a few years ago.

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  8. Elaine says:

    I see Republicans hurling themselves to the floor, drumming their heels and squalling — in short, an oh-so tiresome sequence of tantrums. I suspect that the certainty of a presidential veto enables them to indulge their bad temper (and cranky base). To think that any one of them will suddenly sit up, dry their eyes, and undertake rational problem-solving seems remote indeed. They are secure in the knowledge that the grown-ups will stop them from breaking the furniture.

    Look for better behavior from them? No. We just need to be sure that a majority of grown-up voters are at hand in 2016.

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  9. Mr. Kent says:

    Elaine says: I think you summarized the whole situation very well. Primal scream therapy applied to the real world . And he shall be called Congress.

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  10. Brian Mann says:

    OL –

    I’m not criticizing those who want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. I’m pointing out that the moment when you could safely or easily get ride of the ACA without putting anything new or concrete in its place has passed. That happens sometimes in politics. The framing of the debate shifts.

    At one time, it was possible for people to say, “Look the old way was bad but it was better than Obamacare, let’s just go back to that.” But everyone who studies the healthcare industry in America says that is no longer a viable option.

    A massive part of our economy is now organized along the lines established by the ACA. So in order to make a change, the GOP needs to come up with a new plan. Pointing that out isn’t an attack. It’s not biased. It’s just reality.

    And, frankly, it’s not asking all that much. Republicans think this policy passed in 2010 by both chambers of Congress, signed into law by the President and validated by the Supreme Court is crummy. Great. Tell us your plan for what will replace it. Then voters can decide which option is better.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  11. The Original Larry says:

    Why make this about the Republican approach to the “next step”? We’re still grappling with the consequences of the failed “first step”. Now, all of a sudden, everyone gets that the ACA is “deeply controversial and deeply flawed” but nobody on the left wants to see where the blame truly lies. It happens over and over with this President: one half-baked scheme after another and all the blame laid on the opposition. I’m waiting for someone to blame the 529 debacle on the Republicans.

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  12. Brian Mann says:

    OL –

    There’s no blame. It’s not about blame. It’s not ideological. It’s about…government. For sake of argument, let’s assume that ACA is literally as bad as Republicans claimed. They still have to replace it with something. You can’t just hit an “off” switch.

    So again, let’s stipulate that the GOP are heroes for trying to repeal Obamacare. They still have to put something in its place. And that’s the question now: What next? How do we responsibly transition to something else?

    If you hear frustration in my reply, it’s that as a journalist I’m weary of everything being channeled through ideological, tribal lenses. If Democrats are for it, it’s bad (or good). If Republicans are for it, it’s good (or bad).

    In the context of the healthcare debate, none of that makes any sense. This is a hugely complex industry that shapes the lives of…well, nearly all of us.

    As a conservative, you more than anyone else should be demanding that the GOP — the major party most closely aligned with your views — be capable of not just opposing ideas, and making AM talk radio arguments, but also of actually governing, of creating policies that will work and avoid chaos.

    That’s not a particularly high bar.

    — Brian, NCPR

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  13. The Original Larry says:

    For that low bar everyone keeps tripping over, you can assign a significant amount of blame to a President who ran on an anti-Bush platform, “governed” while constantly carping about Republican obstructionism and now that that’s played out, has fallen back on the “because I said so” theory of leadership. He set the tone, but saying so still doesn’t make it so.

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  14. Jim Bullard says:

    Perhaps I just have a better memory than OL but back when congress was debating the ACA Obama all but begged the GOP on bended knee to join the debate and present their ideas. They refused. At most they shouted “tort reform”, a solution they have been offering along with trickle down as a panacea ever since Reagan was in office. At one point Obama arranged a nationally televised roundtable on the proposed legislation, probably hoping that the GOP leadership would be embarrassed into offering at least some ideas to the debate but no. Their only response was to dig in their heals and insist on throwing out the proposed plan and starting all over (this despite the fact that it was based primarily on GOP legislation from Massachusetts).

    We are now 5 years later and, contrary to OL’s repeated insistence, the ACA is working. More people are insured, costs are not rising as rapidly and the health care system is generally working better overall. I didn’t even need health insurance but since the ACA I have seen improvement in the care I get, more emphasis on preventative medicine and greater coordination between the health care providers I use. No, it is perfect. It could work better still and there are still too many without insurance but the GOP notion that we could just scrap the ACA and go back to square one is beyond irresponsible. It reflects a total disconnection from reality.

    Conservatives are fond of repeating figures from polls that show large numbers of people dislike the ACA. What those figures mask is that many of those who disapprove would prefer to go even further with a Medicare for all system. In any case if we want to further improve the delivery of health care, any legislation to do that needs to contain a path to that improved system and that requires a comprehensive vision of what that improved system would be. The fact remains that 5 years in the GOP has no such vision. Rather they are just repeating the phrase they chanted in that TV roundtable “scrap it and start over”. That’s not a plan and it certainly is not a vision. It is a refusal to face reality and a refusal to do what they are charged by the Constitution with doing, “to promote the general welfare”.

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  15. hermit thrush says:

    jim has just supplied the crucial piece of context missing from this discussion so far: obamacare is working extremely well. yes, the initial rollout beginning in october 2013 was a royal mess. but that was about a botched website, not something fundamental to the law. the website problems got fixed, and since then the news has been overwhelmingly positive.

    the uninsured rate has been sinking like a stone since obamacare fully came online. (if you don’t like gallup, here’s a report from the urban institute finding the same thing.)

    health care inflation has fallen to (at least) a 50-year low.

    incredibly, things have improved so much that the federal government now expects to spend less on health care in the years 2010-2020 than it did in its pre-obamacare baseline! (i would love to link to this but unfortunately the website i have in mind is down at the moment.)

    all the while, rather than obamacare being some kind of job killer which is working only because it’s crushing the rest of the economy, we just had our best year of job growth since 1999 — better than every singe year under bush.

    it’s really funny kind of “disaster” all these conservatives must have in mind.

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  16. hermit thrush says:

    ok, here’s the link to the incredible news about the downward revisions in federal health care spending (and i should have said 2011-2020 above). money quote (emphasis in the original):

    So even adding all the spending in Obamacare, the CBO is projecting the federal government will spend $600 billion less on health care [through 2020] than the agency expected in 2010, when they weren’t counting even a dollar of the spending in Obamacare.

    also, here’s a link to the jobs numbers.

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  17. Original Larry is correct that no policy or program should be written in stone ad infinitum.

    I don’t think there’s anything intellectually bankrupt about repealing the ACA and replacing it with the pre-ACA situation (perhaps with insignificant tweaks). I think it’s a terrible idea and would be rejected the American people. But it’s a valid position to take. They don’t have an “obligation” to propose a third way. The people will decide to reward or punish them, just as they did with the Democrats who passed the ACA.

    My main problem with them is simply they are wasting time trying to repeal it dozens of times. I have no problem with trying it once per two year session. If it doesn’t work, move on. Don’t bring it up again unless you are able to come up with something else that will get the votes.

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  18. hermit thrush says:

    i also have to say, this idea that elise is voting or acting a certain way because she’s a stooge or in hock to karl rove or her congressional overlords or her wealthy donors — i fundamentally don’t get it. she’s a republican. she worked in the white house under george w. bush. she’s worked for paul ryan. doesn’t it seem much more likely that her votes and actions and statements are simply reflecting what she genuinely thinks?

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  19. Peter Hahn says:

    Stefanik is young and bright but her training is in sophistry – political argumentation – not policy creation and certainly not health care delivery. She is skilled at devising plausible claims that Republican health care proposals are on their way even though she knows that no such thing is going to occur (for the reasons Brian has described).

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  20. Peter Hahn says:

    And… I would argue with Brian’s characterization of the ACA as deeply flawed. It has bugs like anything else. The bugs could be fixed without much effort, but the Republicans refuse. A philosophical argument can be made that this isn’t something the federal government should do even though it helps millions of Americans. Its not something I agree with but they can make that argument. Instead they (falsely) claim that it will wreck the economy or wreck our incredibly inefficient and expensive healthcare system.

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  21. The Original Larry says:

    HT, do you count on people glossing over the bad news when you post those links, especially the one to the jobs numbers? Nice.

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  22. Jim Bullard says:

    Are you suggesting OL that the statistics on numbers of newly insured, reduced rate of cost inflation and new jobs are all faked to make it appear that the ACA is succeeding when it is actually failing or are you saying the ACA is a failure because it wasn’t a 100% cure for all our health care and economic woes?

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  23. The Original Larry says:

    I didn’t suggest anything; I asked a question.

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  24. Peter Hahn says:

    OL – the jobs numbers are pretty good. What is your question?

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  25. The Original Larry says:

    Sure, more jobs were created but wages and labor force participation both declined. In the broader context of economic recovery that’s hardly “pretty good”. My question was whether HT thought people might not notice the bad news.

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  26. bill shaver says:

    oh i guess we will have to wait till jan 2017 for the next act in the ACA…thats when sect 1332 is invoked…THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE…precisely the same month when the new govt is sworn in…probabbly a dems win…two women at the forfront…no window dressing and they get down to cases..heathcare…pensions, eductaion, infastructure & imigration…all necessary to creat a good climate for citizenery & buisness…RICKY BOOBY NASCAR 500 GOP RACE NEED NOT APPLY…unless they have a good point of view on ACA…TO SUPPLANT IT WITH SOMTHING AKIN TO MEDICARE FOR ALL..OTHERWISE THEY SHOULD GO & LIVE IN REFERNDOM HELL IN QUEBEC AND SEE WHAT INACTION IS really like….

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  27. pirateedwardlow says:

    Ms. Stefanik didn’t say what she was going to do during the campaign, why would she say what she is going to do now and and the media didn’t press her on that

    let me repeat that

    Ms. Stefanik didn’t say what she was going to do during the campaign, why would she say what she is going to do now and and the media didn’t press her on that

    And last check, NCPR — is part of the media

    It must be hard for an informed reporter to listen to a video like this one…

    ‘I bet the have hired 10s of 1,000 of people’

    Boehner… how can you say that, you have more access to government than anyone… if they hired 10,000 you could find out, you would know

    ‘We are all for helping those at the bottom’

    We are, but the republicans have let to do anything, so maybe they aren’t for helping people at the bottom

    ‘Frankly driving doctors out of the system’

    Again, if anyone had proof of that, it would be you Boehner and McConnell.

    In the end… editorializing is kind of getting at the facts… but never as effective as reporting.

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  28. Brian Mann says:

    Pirateedwardlow –

    Your critique would be sharper if you would do a quick search of our website first to find out if in fact we had neglected to cover Rep. Stefanik’s campaign in an aggressive, probative manner, as you suggest.

    In fact, we did press her on the dichotomy between her campaign rhetoric, her record, and her lack of specificity – repeatedly. Here’s an example.

    http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/26382/20141021/stefanik-s-deep-washington-ties-clash-with-campaign-message

    This story received more than 100 comments and was widely linked to and discussed during the campaign.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  29. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    From a consumer point of view I am pretty happy with the ACA so far. Sure I would be happier with a universal plan of some kind, such as Medicare for all – which still wouldn’t be perfect, nothing ever is – but Obamacare has saved me a ton of money. I know other people who say their experience is different.

    I was one of those who got the infamous letter saying my healthcare plan was being eliminated. As the employer and manager of our health plan I can say that what I was providing was better than nothing but it was a lousy plan. My choice was to provide that lousy plan (no prescription, no dental, no eye, high deductible, and high co-pays) and hope to break even for the year, or to not provide health insurance and possible make a little profit for the year but risk a catastrophic health situation without coverage. While my gross sales had been going down since the economic problems of 2007-2008 the costs of insurance kept escalating at rates averaging around 11% per year.

    We renewed our Obamacare policy this year and we are paying more than last, but it is still a manageable amount and I now have prescription coverage as well as much lower co-pays and deductible. Who knows what will happen next year, same as it has always been.

    I am open to new ideas on how to provide health insurance, but I am completely opposed to going back to the way it was. I can’t afford that.

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  30. Mr. Kent says:

    Original Larry: Your statements regarding wages/labor force participation are contrary to the facts. That is my nice way of saying you are telling lies. If it is because of ignorance or a lack of research on the subject, then it is understandable that you let your ideologies make false statements. If not, then shame on you.

    If you are interested in truth on the subject, then here is a good place to start.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-06/payrolls-in-u-s-increase-more-than-forecast-along-with-wages

    “A 257,000 January increase in employment capped the biggest three-month advance in 17 years and delivered the strongest wage gain since 2008, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday in Washington. The unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent as the prospect of finding work lured hundreds of thousands into the labor force. ”

    “Average hourly earnings jumped 0.5 percent, the most since November 2008, from the prior month. They were up 2.2 percent over the past year, the biggest advance since August. “

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  31. Emmett Hoops says:

    Stefanik’s “fresh ideas” began and ended with her handlers’ coming up with that descriptor. Every time I’ve ever heard her speak or read a transcript, it has been boilerplate Republican garbage. She gets all the proper terminology in there: train wreck, revered relationship, common sense, broken, bipartisan. (That last is a cruel joke.) She is nothing but an ambitious Republican who intends to step up the ladder to a high-paying and influential job in politics, either elected or appointed. Remaining a thoughtful representative for the North Country is not quite so high on her list of priorities.

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  32. Brian Mann says:

    Remember everyone to keep it civil. Please do not accuse others of lying or making arguments in bad faith. Make your own arguments, offer links, share information, be passionate about your own convictions. But don’t attack others who are joining the conversation even if you believe that they are wrong or misguided or whatever. The goal is to have a conversation. That doesn’t mean agree, it means be as courteous as you would be in a diner over lunch.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  33. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Emmett is spot on in his description of candidate Stefanik. Simply watching and listening to her speak made it quite evident to this voter that she was a well trained lap dog of the Karl Rove machine with the same tired rhetoric we hear from candidates of either major party. No real substance and certainly no real original ideas that could benefit this district. Just the same tired talking points both parties spew relentlessly.

    Why anyone would now be shocked that she’s voting lock step with the Paul Ryan Express is baffling to me.

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  34. hermit thrush says:

    larry, i’m a bit perplexed by your comment. the healthcare news over the past year really has been very good — there’s nothing major to gloss over so far as i know, but i’d certainly welcome any links you have. as for the economic situation, it’s also gotten much better in the past year. it’s always a good idea to keep in mind a broad array of economic measures, but be careful about the participation rate — a good portion of its decline is simple demographics as the baby boomers are retiring. here’s fred’s graph of the employment-population ratio among prime-age workers, which has indeed been steadily improving since the depths of the recession.

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  35. pirateedwardlow says:

    Brian M

    Are you implying this article above and this article
    http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/26382/20141021/stefanik-s-deep-washington-ties-clash-with-campaign-message

    are news? not news analyst, by two people who may nor may not pressed Ms. Stefanik on how she stands on this issues?
    ??

    I truly hope you haven’t stepped into the camp of “look how many comments” as proof that an article is news, if news is accurate…

    Let me repeat that

    I truly hope you haven’t stepped into the camp of “look how many comments” as proof that an article is news, if news is accurate…

    because I don’t believe the number of responses you have indicates the quality.. and often those discussions with many comments are because there are more weak links…

    Speaking of links… when an article requires others to put links to the story.. well you can guess what I think of that.

    Thanks for the response

    A

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  36. bill shaver says:

    Slowly cracks in the front line of the GOP contenders is happening…some are admitting that the ACA should it be repealed, it should be supplanted by Medicare for all….I’d hoped people on here can see this, never mind the diatribes & mud slining…not necessary…people should be united to see this through no matter who is in office

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  37. Mr. Kent says:

    Regardless, President Obama and the progressives have already won this game changing issue. Prior to 2008 the Republican party refused to even consider any National Health Care plan, and now they are cornered and know it is not acceptable to go back to what was before. The discussion has changed completely. The discussion now is between keeping and and “tweaking” the AFCA or replacing it with another similar program.
    Game over.

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  38. Graham says:

    We were better off without Obamacare. This focus on a replacement is political cover. Repeal the darn bill. It is bad for America and for Americans. We don’t need a replacement, we need a repeal!!

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  39. Mr. Kent says:

    Sorry Mr. Mann, but when one makes statements that are factually incorrect without any supporting evidence, then that is not an argument they are making. You can debate an argument, but the only response one can have to false claims is what? ” Gee, I don’t think so?”
    Those types of statements have been used so many times the last 15 years that what was considered outrageous is now the norm. Just say anything loud enough and long enough and it deserves debate? How many times have we heard from noted and sometimes elected individuals things like ” Obama is a Muslim,” ” Obama is a socialist,” ” He is a communist,” ” Obama is a Marxist,” ” Obama is a Kenyan?” My word, the Republican party had a guy in the mix running for President on the ticket that Obama was not born in this country and his birth certificate is fake.
    Truth should not become collateral damage to debate. You want to interpret facts, data, empirical evidence differently than I do or groups like the Department of Labor do or the CBO do? Good, have at it. But blanket statements need to be self evident, or at the least mildly defended with something.

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  40. bill shaver says:

    Sorry..its old news ,debunked by a 6 year old who could read the constitution, NATURAL BORN IS A VERY VERY VAGUE STATEMENT.The ACA was the first step in the heath care reform process, totally necessary as most we not going to listen about medicare for all, the aca puts it out in plain english…this is a steping stone to unchain the grip of the hospitals & insurance comapnies grip on thepublic in usa…time to go foreward from it now they have everyone attention….The aca outlined all the holes in our heathcare system…time to fix thoose problems with medicare for all, it’ll be easier for everyone, nevermind the hodge podge of subsidies & exchanges…just get everyone in the system, along with electronic records. allows for accountability at all levels incvluding the pharmacies., surprise , surprise…

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  41. The Original Larry says:

    HT, the first article you linked to about the jobs report pointed out that wages and workforce participation were both down, even as the number of jobs created rose. Seems like a mixed bag to me and I don’t think that’s cause for much cheering.

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  42. Peter Hahn says:

    OL – in the last few jobs reports wages are up a little and workforce participation is up. Not up as much as it should be but up. Its no longer a mixed bag. But it took too long

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  43. The Original Larry says:

    Peter Hahn, that’s fine, but I was reacting to the article HT linked to.

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  44. Mervel says:

    What damage has the ACA caused to date?

    Let’s say that you were mainly worried about government intrusion and higher taxes, and did not care if people got health insurance or for that matter healthcare, I’m not seeing either higher taxes or more government intrusion into my life.

    The main problem with the ACA is probably that it does not really do that much. Yes some people have insurance but we still have many people without insurance, as hermit pointed out thought that is dropping. But regardless I am not seeing the big disaster here for conservatives?

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  45. hermit thrush says:

    larry, please. read the article. the decline in wages was for the single month of december. you can (or at least should) extrapolate very little from a single month’s data. as mr. kent pointed out, january saw our best month-over-month wage growth since 2008 — does that mean we should be doing cartwheels? here’s fred’s graph of earnings data for those who want to take a look.

    the broader point completely stands. conservatives keep telling us that obamacare is a job-killing monstrosity, but nothing even remotely like that has come to pass.

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  46. PirateEdwardLow says:

    Mr. Thrush, you will just have to accept some folks have blinders on, sure they could look at the facts and see that in spite of the Goofy Obstructionist Party spending the last six years trying to solve anything, but just blocking progress, that the economy has moved on (o the dream of what it would have been if the GOP would actually represent someone other than the Koch Bros).

    It’s said, but one of the big mistakes of Mr. Obama. Mr. President, give up on the GOP, they don’t want to make the world better, they don’t want to help the middle class, let alone the poor.

    They have an agenda… and to some degree it is working. The rich is richer, the poor is poorer and the middle class is on the decline.

    But the poor still have the chance at health care, and the GOP is mad, they are coming after you.

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  47. hermit thrush says:

    they don’t want to make the world better, they don’t want to help the middle class, let alone the poor.

    while i agree with most of what you say, p.e.l., i totally disagree with that. of course republicans/conservatives want to make the world a better place, and they genuinely believe their policies will be helpful. they genuinely believe they have a better policy program for the poor. you and i may argue that they’re mistaken about the best set of policies to pursue (and let’s be honest, we’ve got a pretty good case to make!), but this is about means, not ends.

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  48. Cliff Olney says:

    Stefanik has voted to repeal Obamacare without having a plan to fix it first. She ran on a “New Ideas” platform. Her votes, so far, say otherwise but she’s only been there a month. So here’s an idea she should consider- single payer with a “buy-in” to Medicare.
    Look at what our current system provides now and at what cost.
    First, you have a deductible of an average of $3000 a year.
    Ask yourself, “How much do I pay a year in medical costs?” Is it $3000?
    Most of us don’t.
    Then, a doctor’s visit has a Co-Pay that varies depending on the plan- usually between $25 and $50.
    That cost is on top of the other out of pocket cost until you reach your deductible.
    Then there is the monthly premium. This averages around $6000 for a single healthy person.
    So add this up.
    $3000 (deductible), $600 (co-pays) and $6000 (premium) or $9600 a year before the insurance policy you bought pays a dime.

    This is quite the scam by government and insurance companies on the American people.
    Health Care cost have risen over the years:
    The following is the average annual health care spending (not just insurance premiums) per capita
    2010- $8,402 , 2000- $4,550 , 1990 -$2,600 ,1980- $1,110 , 1970- $380
    Will you spend more than what you pay on deductibles, co-pays, and premiums before the insurance companies pay anything? Most likely.
    Can you imagine calling a roofer and once he arrived, saying to him, “Hey, fix my roof and let me know what it costs afterwards, OK?”
    Of course not. You’d be taken advantage of in the deal.
    People negotiate a price ‘before’ they agree to have a job done or before they decide to make a purchase.
    Can you imagine arriving at a doctor’s office and seeing a menu with prices over the intake desk that says, ‘office calls, 10 minutes, $125’?
    You might turn around and find one that’s cheaper and just as good. Is it considered ‘uncouth’ to ask?
    “What’s this visit going to cost?”
    There are no doctor’s offices that display prices that I have seen. Have you?
    There’s no way to compare doctors’ prices.
    Our current healthcare system emphasizes being sick in order for doctors and providers to be paid. So what’s the incentive to get someone well?
    The more visits, the more drugs, the more tests and the longer they keep you coming back, the more money they make. There’s something wrong with the way we look at healthcare.
    We need to begin to see our healthcare system as a Club Med or Concierge Medicine- a “buy-in” to Medicare.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concierge_medicine
    If everyone paid their doctors and hospitals directly for a membership, whether they went in to see the doctor or not, doctors would be paid regardless if they saw sick people.
    That would change the way doctors and hospital administrators viewed treatments. Treatments would be based on results rather than duration and profit.
    With Club Med, it would cost the providers money when they saw patients.
    Insurance companies could be combined into one that administered the program where you could buy in to Medicare.
    If everyone bought a policy from Medicare on a sliding income scale, which would fully fund the program.
    Prescription drugs and specialists could be paid from a general fund should someone need them.
    When Obamacare failed to include a true public option, it gave insurance companies a license to raise premiums and deductibles.
    So what if Obamacare prevents insurance companies from dropping people and doing unethical things, which they never should have been allowed to do in the first place.
    The trade off with Obamacare’s ‘good parts’ (forcing insurance companies to do what they should have been doing all along) was to include a mandate to force the uninsured to buy insurance from a private company. WOW!
    Somehow, I don’t feel Americans got the better part of this deal. Insurance companies did.
    “Club Med” would fix this broken, rip-off system for people instead of for corporate insurance companies.
    Obamacare just rubber stamped the continued pilfering of the public by Cigna, Blue Cross, and United Healthcare. There are some good parts, but it didn’t go far enough.

    The Medicare program would make direct payments monthly to the doctor you chose whether you saw him or not that month.
    Membership to Medicare would depend on your income. Simple and sweet!

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  49. Kent Gregson says:

    Good one Brian, Your original point is well taken and supported by the comments taken in context with the commenter’s usual response.

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  50. bill shaver says:

    the only plan next is medicare for all…enact by 2017….

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