Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Obamacare Mimics Romneycare

Every GOP presidential candidate made repealing Obamacare their platform

In the next couple of years, middle-class Montanans are eligible for a sizable tax credit from the Affordable Care Act. It is refundable so taxpayers who have little income tax liability can still fully benefit. The credit can be paid in advance to a taxpayer’s insurance company to help cover the cost of premiums.

All presidents talk about reforming health care. President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Obama said, “I was not going to allow another decade to pass by where we kick the can down the road because it was politically convenient.”

“They call it Obamacare?” Obama said. “I do care! You should care, too.”

In a statement from Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, he said the average American family with health insurance pays $1,000 in extra premiums to cover the $43 billion in uninsured health care.

Every GOP presidential candidate made repealing Obamacare their platform. Ironically Mitt Romney previously collaborated with former Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy to mandate insurance in Massachusetts.

Romney joked on Fox News that having “Ted Kennedy supporting a bill which I authored could actually be a cure to global warming, because hell has frozen over.”

Romneycare mandated near universal health insurance in Massachusetts. On Obamacare, Romney says he would “kill it dead.”

Obamacare has plenty of noteworthy provisions like cheaper medicine for seniors, free access for preventive care, or gender neutral premiums.

“Obamacare means never having to worry about getting sick and running up against a lifetime cap on insurance coverage,” Obama strategist David Axelrod wrote. “It gives parents the comfort of knowing their kids can stay on their insurance until they’re 26, and that a ‘pre-existing condition’ like an ear infection will never compromise their child’s coverage.”

The mandate to purchase health insurance is the political problem.

Early in his political career, Gov. Brian Schweitzer made national headlines by traveling with busloads of seniors into Canada for much cheaper medicine.

Schweitzer’s plan for a low-cost health clinic for state employees will open later this year. It could be expanded to serve university employees or Medicaid patients.

But Schweitzer signed a bill into law prohibiting public employers from mandating insurance upon employees. “They ought not to have a mandate unless we have a public option,” Schweitzer said. “I don’t like the mandate … They’ve come in and said you have to buy a policy from one of these private insurance companies. I think (insurance) is overpriced and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

Rep. Derek Skees, R-Whitefish, sponsored multiple Tea Party bills in the 2011 Montana Legislature. Skees proposed a state commission to nullify any federal law it reasoned unconstitutional and a mandate that the reform outlined in Obamacare is “null and void” to Montanans.

Skees receives $733 per month – for 2 years – in taxpayer subsidized health insurance. Skees is now the GOP candidate seeking to become the next insurance commissioner in the Montana auditor’s office.

It is hard for people to believe that the Supreme Court justices reviewing Obamacare will not allow their personal views to affect their decision.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that “if the decision is 5-4, basically Republican versus Democratic appointees on the court, I think a lot of people will look at that as they did at the Supreme Court decision to put President Bush in power.”

Partisanship aside, it is about time that someone in Congress put real people at the head of the tax-cut line. Refundable tax credits help people.

The Supreme Court may eliminate the mandate for health insurance. The justices may abandon the tax cuts in the Affordable Care Act. But the justices cannot eliminate the reality that real people must secure essential health care from a very expensive marketplace.