The Great Great Contest

Monday, January 16, 2012
The new president of the Ohio Jaycees, back in the early 1980’s, was a good old boy from the southern part of our state. We’ll call him Bubba. I was a state level officer and had been very involved in the other guy’s campaign.

Bubba was a nice enough guy who was incapable of stringing four words together without saying the word “great”. No other superlative, just “great”.

The Ohio Jaycees were holding a state-wide meeting and Bubba was going to give a fifteen minute presentation. I created the Great Great Contest. I divided an oversized sheet of cardboard into a thousand numbered squares and allowed the guys to predict how many times Bubba would say “Great”. Each block cost $1. Half would go to the winner. Half to charity. You could hear the crowd counting throughout Bubba’s speech.

Bubba isn’t running for President, but I think about him every time I watch the Republican hopefuls debate. Which candidate will be the first to say that he will “Repeal Obamacare”? It is a race. I half expect Mitt Romney to be mouthing the words as the cameras focus on him during the introduction.

There are two more debates this week. Get out a sheet a paper and keep score. Who gets to be the first to promise to “Repeal Obamacare”? Who says it the most? How many times are Obamacare, and its orphaned cousin, Romneycare, decried in each debate? You may need a large piece of paper.

Now grab a post-it note to score how many times any of these candidates propose an alternative. My prediction – ZERO.

This blog has been clear. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a terrible overreach and a badly written bill. The numbers don’t add up. The stated goal, the motivation for this whole endeavor, was to cover the uninsured. The PPACA has not solved that problem. But, what does repealing it accomplish?

The PPACA is almost two years old. Businesses and insurance companies have spent millions of dollars to comply with the ever-changing regulations. President Obama was clear, prior to the bill’s passage, that “if you like your current health insurance plan, you can keep it”. That didn’t happen. The cost to maintain a separate series of “grandfathered” contracts compliant with the contradictory regulations emanating from Katherine Sebelius’s Health and Human Services was beyond reason. One by one, the insurers eliminated all of their old contracts. If you repeal the PPACA, do you have to go through the expense of changing the majority of the group and individual health policies in our country?

The PPACA made preventive care a mandatory benefit. Does that stay or go?

The PPACA allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. How many pregnant 24 year olds would lose coverage if you suddenly repealed the PPACA?

Would the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act eliminate the health policies that were created for the chronically uninsured?

You get the idea. The PPACA may be a mess, but it, just like the problems it purported to fix, exists. Repealing the Presidents’ health care plan without having a well-crafted replacement might be worse than retaining it.

This blog has consistently doubted the Republican’s sincerity about repealing the PPACA. I view it as a safe fundraising ploy. It would take way too much effort to create a viable alternative. There is no risk to denigrating legislation disliked by over half of our populace. Creating an alternative would expose them to the same type of scrutiny and probably the same results. Even modifying the law was more effort than the Republican House could muster.

Bubba said “Great” 123 times. The winner received $140. Bubba isn’t running for President, but I am convinced that he was one of Michele Bachmann’s speechwriters.

DAVE

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