GOP Targets Failing Co-Ops in Latest Attack on Obamacare


After the House of Representatives recently voted 258 to 165 to pass the Co-op Consumer Protection Act, it became clearer than ever that Obamacare is nothing like the universal healthcare provided in Canada, Scandinavia, the UK and elsewhere.

GOP Congressman Adrian Smith of western Nebraska sponsored this Co-op Act to help people who unexpectedly lose their “co-op” health insurance. The co-ops are non-profit health care organizations within the Obamacare framework that compete with for-profit insurance companies.

At a recent House Ways and Means committee hearing, Congressman Smith noted that $2.1 billion was distributed to 23 approved co-ops. However, he said 16 of those co-ops have closed or are in the process of closing. The remaining seven are struggling to remain solvent.

Smith’s bill would help consumers by making sure they do not have to pay the Obamacare “individual mandate” tax penalty whenever, through no fault of their own, they lose their Obamacare insurance purchased through any of the failed co-ops. The White House said in a press release the bill is unnecessary given consumer protections that are available, and said the President would veto the bill if it reached him.

Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, it’s more and more evident that Obamacare, as forced insurance, generates unwitting and unwilling customers for the insurance racket — a true corporate bonanza.

Yes, those with pre-existing medical conditions technically cannot be refused insurance coverage, but the so-called Affordable Care Act really is just a maddening patchwork that includes plenty of “affordable” plans whose deductibles are so high that most of the plans are virtually useless in everyday life.

A Democratic voter I know, who’s a well-off car salesman and real estate investor, was excited when Obamacare was first passed. But he soon found that even though your hospital might be listed as a participant in your particular Obamacare plan, the various medical specialists working through that same hospital often do not, and do not have to, accept Obamacare.

Moreover, this writer has personally found that if your Obamacare monthly premium is due, say, the first of the month, and you pay by the 7th of the month because of a late paycheck, then if you were to get sick between the 1st and the 7th, you very well may not be covered.

Ask any Canadian about this, and they’ll scoff. Universal healthcare there is provided on the simple basis of being a citizen. Sure, the taxes to fund it are a bit stiff, but there is no monthly premium to pay, so there is no way you could be denied coverage because you’re “late” with your “payment.”

Even an ultra-conservative retired Air Force pilot I know recalls getting universal coverage as an airman and he wonders why the government didn’t simply expand Medicare into a universal single-payer system, as opposed to Obamacare, which is indeed welfare for select insurance companies.

And that tax penalty Rep. Smith cited is applied to any adult who lacks either Obamacare coverage or lacks another health insurance plan deemed acceptable by the federal government, or if the family makes less than 138% of the federal poverty level ($33,465 for a family of four). The penalty is several hundred dollars a year per person and it’s growing. It hits the self-employed especially hard.

True, Obamacare’s monthly premiums are tax-deductible to the self-employed, but, as noted, to get a low-enough premium for the working poor and middle-classers to ably afford, you have to have high deductibles, which renders the insurance almost useless except for serious medical conditions. And even then, who knows?

It gets worse. Insurance plans available under Obamacare may pigeonhole policy-holders to certain hospitals and doctors in their home areas. It’s not universal like Medicare. That means that an Obamacare policy-holder vacationing out-of-state, or even far enough out of town, may not be covered during a hospital or doctor visit away from home. At bare minimum, insurance plans available under Obamacare should be portable in our highly mobile society, but they aren’t necessarily.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) recently remarked: “The news about [Obamacare] gets worse every day. Premiums are going through the roof, choice and access are falling through the floor … [Most] of the 23 co-ops created under the law have failed. Like so many parts of the law, the co-op program was deeply flawed from the start. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Americans have had their health coverage disrupted.”

Mark Anderson is a veteran journalist who divides his time between Texas and Michigan. Email him at

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2016

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