Republicans shutting down government because they got what they asked for?

Posted on October 1, 2013


The federal government began shutting down at midnight and over 800,000 government workers and half as many temps and consultants are out of a job this morning. This shutdown will cost in excess of two billion dollars per day extra over the cost of a continuing resolution. And why exactly do we find ourselves in a position where our own government could potentially drive us back into a recession?

One word – Obamacare.

While the republican controlled house has voted to repeal the affordable care act 42 times the irony about these votes is that the affordable care act was previously about a deeply held republican belief of personal responsibility. This deeply held republican belief about personal responsibility reasons that the government should not be picking up the healthcare tab just because someone chooses to not contribute to their healthcare costs. Another irony about this is that all of those moderate and even progressive political fence sitters who consider themselves independent voters by and large also buy into the theory that we should not be picking up this tab either.

Not only is this about a deeply held republican belief but the affordable care act was and has always been the much touted alternative to single payer healthcare, better known in some circles as socialized medicine that is currently the law in most first world countries. The affordable care act in fact is based on “Romney-care” which was a republican launched initiative in Massachusetts to get everyone covered in that state without having to resort to single payer healthcare. It was touted, sold and passed as an issue of personal responsibility. The convenient term for such coverage is an individual mandate. You have the choice of opting out but you must still contribute to the healthcare system for doing so in the form of a penalty.

So how is it working out in “Taxachusettes, the pay state”?

Insurance costs have risen, yet not at or near the double digit annual increases experienced by the rest of the nation including here in California. If you are a small employer here in California and you have just one worker get sick, insurance companies will sack your companies health insurance or skyrocket the premiums just to get out from under the claim. This isn’t the case with large employers and it isn’t the case with Calpers, who negotiates one (sky-high) rate for all individuals covered by the state, be they age 18 or age 99. It would appear that Calpers assumes everyone is 66 with their rates.

Our current system clearly isn’t working and we need a change. A result of this is moderates getting together with both the left and right wing and eeking out a solution that does no harm the 500 billion dollar a year economic juggernaut known as our healthcare system but manages to get more people – but not everyone – covered by private insurance. And it is based entirely on what has been implemented by mostly moderate republicans in Massachusetts.

Republicans got exactly what they asked for. Now they seek to derail what they asked for by shutting down the government because a faction of the republican party known as the tea party views the mandate as a new tax, yet discounts the crushing costs of healthcare on government already.

Sure, the individual mandate is inconvenient if you have to resort to purchasing insurance yourself but we’ve sampled the costs compared to current insurance costs against some current insurance policies in effect. While the platinum coverage amounts to a higher rate than what is currently being paid by most, yet still half the costs of a comparable CALPERS plan, the benefits outweigh the costs for those with healthcare issues. The Gold, Silver and Bronze coverage are all less expensive than current healthcare coverage but you share a greater percentage of the costs. The most important aspect however is that insurance companies must enroll and cover you even if you have a preexisting condition.

And if you, like the majority of us files tax returns, then you can prove your income and may qualify for healthcare subsidies. Perhaps this filing a tax return is what the tea partiers really object to because they don’t want the government all up in their business. For an entrepreneur who might be looking to leave their current employer and go start a business the Affordable Care Act is a bonanza of achievable, affordable healthcare coverage that might otherwise be unobtainable without preexisting exclusions. Today, people are stuck in their jobs because of a lack of affordable portability and preexisting conditions of themselves or family members. Sure COBRA coverage exists for some but the costs of platinum coverage via covered Covered California can amount to a mere 25% of COBRA conversion rates and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

When the clock struck midnight last night the federal government and all agencies lost their spending authority. This will unquestionably impact California government who relies upon the feds to keep a myriad of programs afloat including judicial branch programs. The last federal shutdown cost an extra two billion dollars per day to shut the government down than it would have cost to just keep it running. After just a few weeks California coffers will be decimated by unemployment insurance claims adding insult to an already injurious system that is resuming paying claims after a state computer SNAFU.

Wait until they stop getting federal reimbursements.

Most reading this post have world class healthcare coverage provided by Calpers. I would guess there are over 2,500 people who have lost their jobs in the branch that are straining under the expense of cobra coverage or who just can’t afford insurance. And when you really think about all of the damage the boondoggler leadership in San Francisco has done and continues to do, your job and your insurance coverage remains at risk. You deserve an affordable alternative to COBRA coverage and that can be found at covered California.

We vehemently disagree with a few ill intentioned people hijacking the government over a plan that they rolled out as a viable alternative to single payer healthcare and then changed their minds about because a democratic president got it passed. Both the left and the right passed the plan and made it the law of the land. It is wrong to make everyone suffer just because you have a change of heart and believe that personal responsibility actually means you can rely upon the state, the insurer of last resort because you choose to not contribute.

What we think is behind all of this is that a large host of insurance companies don’t participate in the affordable care act because the care they offer isn’t affordable and on the first day of enrollment today they’re watching their customers start to disappear.

The state of California has done an amazing job at simplifying the affordable care act implementation over at covered California. What they offer is going to cause a whole lot of customers to change their coverage. That’s grinding a whole lot of insurers that don’t participate in state health insurance exchanges because their coverage sucks and their rates are too high. Please take a moment to compare your current coverage and what’s being paid for that coverage with what’s available at covered California. Think about all of the excluded insurers and then think of the timing of the current debacle in Washington DC. I’m sure you’ll agree with a bit of research that this is all less than coincidental.