As the political world's focus shifts to Syria and looming crises on Capitol Hill, the Republican campaign to defund the Affordable Care Act has largely disappeared from the landscape. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and the Heritage Foundation intended to use the August recess to put this on the front burner, but as of today, their efforts appear to have fallen far short.
So, the federal health care law is in the clear as the state exchanges get set to open? Not entirely.
The Obama administration has invested $67 million in grants to hire "navigators," intended to help American consumers better understand the new system and sign up for benefits they're legally entitled to. Unfortunately, many Republican-led states have imposed harsh restrictions on the navigators -- in Ohio, navigators are forbidden from comparing and contrasting insurance plans for customers -- and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week launched a new intimidation campaign targeting those assisting the uninsured.
Even the Washington Post's editorial board is getting sick of the sabotage.
As The Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar reported last week, Republicans at the state level also have applied a variety of less visible measures to impede the law’s implementation. Some won't enforce consumer protections, including a ban on insurance companies rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions. The result will be illegal discrimination. Another tactic has been restricting the work of federal "navigators," consumer assistants who help people understand their options and get coverage. [...]Though some analysts offer explanations for why state governments might make one or another of these decisions, states taking these steps are unwise at best. To the extent they represent a deliberate policy to derail the law, such steps are worse than misguided. Georgia’s state government is doing “everything in our power to be an obstructionist,” Ralph Hudgens, the state’s insurance commissioner, boasted.
"The result," the editorial added, "will be more people without health insurance."
I imagine that's the point.
GOP officials appear genuinely afraid that the federal health care system will prove to be effective and popular, so naturally Republicans are going to truly ridiculous lengths to sabotage the law.
When was the last time Americans saw such a coordinated effort to undermine federal law, motivated by cheap partisan spite? We've never seen anything like this, ever.
Update: Jonathan Cohn had a good piece today on this, fleshing the ways in which the GOP targeting navigators appears to be pretty obvious evidence of sabotage.