Our Health Care Opportunity

The current right-wing takeover of Congress, the Courts, and State Government is not a time for timidity. In fact, the coming attack on health care reform is a golden opportunity for progressives to cement the law in place for generations to come.

It is an opportunity because it puts us in a position to reveal to the broader public that the goal of conservatives is to take affordable health care away from millions of people. Remember taking something important away people already have is much more concrete and emotionally visceral than abstract promises about future improvements. That is why the right is so obsessed with derailing the Affordable Care Act before it is firmly established.

Thanks to the conservative obsession with sabotage, we have the opportunity to make a compelling case to millions of people who have affordable health care today because of the Affordable Care Act (and their friends and family) that conservatives have embarked on a shocking attack on their personal freedom.

The best opportunity is the threat progressives fear the most, the surprising decision by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to take up the bizarre right-wing think tank generated case that the Affordable Care Acts tax subsidies to make health insurance affordable only apply in states that decided to set up their own health marketplaces, in other words only in 18 mostly blue states.

Progressives want to crawl under the rug on this one because they feel powerless to influence the machinations of the Roberts court. But think about it, with a smart focused campaign we can show that even if SCOTUS does the unthinkable next Spring, it will be the fault of conservatives state politicians and members of Congress when millions of people lose the tax credits they need to afford health insurance.

The numbers on this are off the charts. 5 million people nationally will see their health insurance premiums spike by an average of 76% if SCOTUS invalidates the tax subsidies in the 32 states which rely on the federal marketplace. In Wisconsin as many as 150,000 people will be impacted. Many of these people have pre-existing conditions or are early retirees not yet eligible for Medicare or are people like farmers who do not have large employers. In other words, people who will not have the freedom to have affordable health coverage if conservatives get their way.

Its really very simple. In the case of Congress, if there really is a drafting error all Congress has to do is pass a one-line correction. Conservatives won’t do so because they want to sabotage health care reform no matter the consequences for their own constituents. We are practicing political malpractice if every constituent does not know who  is taking away their health care--their own Member of Congress.

At the state level, every state should immediately set up a state marketplace to safeguard the tax credits their own residents need. If they don’t they need to be held politically responsible for yanking health care from millions of people who have nowhere else to go!

This opportunity to turn around the health care debate and make repeal a third rail in American politics is being offered up on a silver platter by an overreaching conservative movement bent on sabotage at all costs. At Citizen Action of Wisconsin we will not take this sitting down. We will lead the charge on this in Wisconsin and beyond.

 - Robert Kraig is Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin

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