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Mitch McConnell, John Boehner
Big insurance lets Mitch McConnell and John Boehner off the hook. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Congressional Republicans have been all over the map on how, or if, they'll fulfill the "replace" part of the promise they made in the 2010 election to erase the Affordable Care Act from existence and create something else. The something else part of that has had them really stymied, since they're pretty much bereft of ideas for a health care system that actually provides, you know, health care to everybody.

Big insurance to the rescue. The big insurance companies' announcements that they would continue to honor some of the provisions now in effect has let congressional Republicans off the hook. So, now they've decided to put off working on repeal at all.

Once the Supreme Court issues a ruling, "the goal is to repeal anything that is left standing," said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., a member of the party's leadership.

Beyond that, "we ought to go step by step to lower the cost" of health care, he added, a formula repeated by numerous other Republicans interviewed in recent days. [...]

While three big insurance companies announced plans this past week to retain certain protections for an estimated 40 percent of all individuals who receive their coverage through work, there has been no advance word from the drug industry on how prescription costs for older people might be affected by a finding that the law is unconstitutional.

Even so, Republicans say they have no plans for assuring continuity of a provision that reduces out-of-pocket costs for seniors with high drug expenses. This coverage gap is known as "doughnut hole."

As of last August closing that "donut hole" had saved seniors $460 million on prescription drugs. The Republicans are saying that if drug companies want to volunteer to continue to offer a discount on prescription drugs in the coverage gap, they're free to do so, but Republicans don't care if they do, and don't care if seniors have to return to paying exorbitant prices for their medications. That'll go over well.

The insurance companies, to an extent, bailed the Republicans out from having to do anything on "replace" by announcing they would retain a few of the law's popular provisions that have already gone into effect. Republicans are apparently hoping that PhRMA will be as magnanimous to them. Good luck, there.

This just reinforces what we already knew: as far as Republicans are concerned, there is no health care crisis in America. Except, of course, for what they consider to be a crisis—old people and poor people getting more health care than they deserve. Replacing the Affordable Care Act isn't a concern to them because they really don't care if people are uninsured or going broke trying to provide care for themselves and their families. If you can't afford to pay market rates for insurance, Republicans say, that's your bad luck.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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