N.J.’s health care hall of shame | Editorial

The last-ditch attempt to torpedo Obamacare failed, and we bow our heads to the few Republican senators who had the courage and integrity to stop this. They bravely took a stand.
 
Yet in our post-mortem on Trumpcare, let’s also not forget the health care cowards in our own state who continuously enabled this crisis.
 
Hold forever in your heart the fact that Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th) and Tom MacArthur (R-3rd) tried to kick 23 million Americans off health insurance, including more than 500,000 in New Jersey.

‘Obamacare’ repeal fails in Senate
 
And that Sir Rodney, who has refused to even hold a town hall, remains a top general in the fight to kill this law, having passed a bill out of his powerful House appropriations committee forbidding the IRS from enforcing the mandate that people buy insurance or pay a penalty.
 
That’s very similar to a so-called “skinny repeal.” By ending the requirement that everyone has to buy coverage or pay a fine, it incentivizes healthy people to wait until they are sick to buy insurance; making the cost of coverage skyrocket, crashing the insurance market.
 
And never forget that “no regrets” MacArthur was the one who revived the repeal of Obamacare by making it even crueler, bailing out Donald Trump after the first bill failed. Our congressman continues to insist that Republican repeal attempts are not really to blame for upheaval in the market – even as New Jersey insurers say that’s largely the reason they are hiking premiums. Right.
 
Then there’s our gutless governor. Never forget how Chris Christie refused to advocate for us with the president. He was conspicuously absent among the 10 governors, including five Republicans, who urged the Senate this week to reject this proposal for a “skinny repeal.”

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That final plan to chip away at the Affordable Care Act would have been catastrophic – hiking premiums by 20 percent and leaving nearly 16 million uninsured over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Including more than 400,000 in New Jersey.
 
So it was no surprise that virtually everyone in the health care industry – insurers, doctors, the American Cancer Society and AARP – came out against this. The bipartisan governors standing up for their states urged Congress to stabilize the market and make insurance more affordable, not less.
 
“The bill still threatens coverage for millions of hardworking, middle class Americans,” they wrote, and by shifting Medicaid costs to states, fails to “provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, including the working poor or those suffering from mental illness or addiction.”
 
Hear that, Christie? While most people hooked on heroin have no private insurance and depend on Medicaid, he’s hardly uttered a word in its defense; even though his own war on addiction depends on this money – lest he earn a nasty nickname from Trump.
 
So as we hail the three Republican leaders who stood up for what’s right, never forget the three in our own state who didn’t. Especially the two whose seats come up for reelection in 2018.

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