Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's remarks this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe blasting the Affordable Care Act are just the latest indication that, despite the fact that the ACA is the law of the land, Republicans in Washington (and Tallahassee) are still in denial about it.
Johnson said that he doesn't believe the estimates of how much President Obama's signature domestic achievement will ultimately cost. “I think far more Americans are going to lose their employer-sponsored care, because there are incentives for employers to drop their coverage and make their employees eligible for huge subsidies and exchanges. I think this is going to explode our deficit, I think this is going to lead to rationing. It will lead to rationing, lower quality of care.”
Similar statements were expressed on Fox News Sunday by Paul Ryan, the Republicans House Budget Chairman, in defending his new budget plan (to be unveiled Tuesday) that calls for repealing Obamacare.
Part of how the ACA is expected to add up to 30 million new people getting health insurance is by expanding Medicaid, the government run program for low-income people. (Whether that will happen now is up to the states, who the Supreme Court ruled last year have the right to accept or not expanding Medicaid.)
Like his previous budgets, Ryan's latest proposal calls on making Medicaid a block grant program.
RYAN: So, by repealing Obamacare, and the Medicaid expansions which haven't occurred yet, we are basically preventing an explosion of a program that is already failing.
So, we're saying don't grow this program through Obamacare because it doesn't work. Prevent that growth from going because it's not going to work, it's going to hurt people who are trying to help, it's going to hurt hospitals and states, and give the states the tools that they are asking for.
Indiana is a perfect example. They have a fantastic Medicaid program that Mitch Daniels created in Indiana that is popular, that's successful, that's working well, but Obamacare prevents it from going forward. We want to give states like Indiana, states like Wisconsin, the tools they need to make these benefits work for their populations and we don't want to push more people into a failing program. And by not pushing people into this failing program, we do save these kinds of dollars.
WALLACE: I'm going to pick up on this because I must say I didn't understand it. Are you saying that as part of your budget, you would repeal, you assume the repeal of Obamacare?
WALLACE: Well, that's not going to happen.
RYAN: Well, we believe it should. That's the point. That's what's — but this is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It's about making tough choices to fix our country's problems.
We believe that Obamacare is a program that will not work. We believe Obamacare will actually lead to hospitals and doctors and health care providers turning people away.
You might recall that, in one form or another, the GOP-led House of Representatives has voted over 30 times in the past few years to repeal Obamacare.
House Speaker John Boehner has previous indicated that House Republicans are likely to vote to repeal the healthcare law at some point.
Last week Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio said he'd join his Texas colleague Ted Cruz to delay funding the ACA when a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of this year comes up for a vote.
Rubio told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt last Thursday why the federal health care law should be stopped. "I already am running into businesses that are planning next year on not hiring people or laying some people off so they don’t have to meet these mandates. Others are going to push their employees off of their private plans that they offer and onto these exchanges, driving up the cost for the public. So this is going to be an implementation disaster. It’s going to hurt our economy severely. And we’re not spending enough time talking about that."
That congressional opposition is dividing Republicans from governors such as Ohio's John Kasich, Arizona's Jan Brewer and Florida's own Rick Scott, who have come out in favor of Medicaid expansion in recent weeks.
Although we haven't heard of any organized protests against Governor Scott, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that a Tea Party demonstration is being organized tonight against Governor Kasich for what his critics are calling "KasichCare."
But the question that needs to be asked is, how long will Republicans bash their heads against the wall about this?
As Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner:
Given the Democratic majority in the Senate, not to mention Republican divisions on the issue, defunding Obamacare remains an impossibility. But there is a sense that what Cruz started (with Lee joining in almost immediately), is gathering momentum.
Yes, great. It's gaining momentum to do what exactly? Galvanize the public to rise up against Democrats to have them agree with them in Congress? Surely President Obama would veto it. So they're hoping that Congress would override him? It's still a bit puzzling to know why Republicans are doing this, other than to fire up themselves for what will be an ultimately meaningless gesture.