The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Williams – off-base again


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Mar. 07, 2018 - 11:07 PM

Williams – off-base again

The Newnan Times-Herald

Jack Bernard

State Senator Mike Williams, a politician whom newspapers have recently written about in regard to misuse of students in his campaign, is running for governor.

I question his candidacy. He was on CNN (6-24) speaking about “repeal and replace’’ Obamacare (ACA) with a free market solution. He had no specifics at all, but just generally thought that free competition has helped millions to have a better life in general – which as a capitalist I believe to be true, with certain caveats like health care.

He also had no knowledge of the CBO score on Trumpcare, the horrible GOP-suggested alternative that he supported and which would have resulted in tens of millions losing insurance and ridiculous tax breaks for the wealthy – like Williams – and corporations.

He never mentioned Medicaid expansion under the ACA at all, but incorrectly stated that “millions” had already lost coverage under Obamacare… when actually the exact opposite is true. Tens of millions have gained coverage and the rate of uninsured nationally and statewide has been dramatically reduced.

Didn’t he know this before being interviewed on national TV? Shouldn’t we expect more of our leaders?

At the same time, he indicated that he wanted to put pressure on the drug companies and insurance companies that were only “pursuing profits.” I agree, but I am concerned that Williams thought the free market could somehow resolve the problem. Again, it appeared that he thought the magic hand of the market can solve all health care financing and delivery issues. This is factually incorrect.

He also stated his own premiums had escalated and that he owed “tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills” because of a major accident that his son was involved in which resulted in a dozen surgeries. I was also a bit startled when I learned that he had loaned his campaign $1 million. Did the bills he referred to affect him as they would others with limited resources… or was this all just political rhetoric by an ambitious politician?

Williams may really care about the taxpayer but is just frustrated and unknowledgeable. He and many in Congress are looking for a mystical simple solution, “repeal and replace,” which they believe is ideologically better than Obamacare. But, it was also obvious to me that he had very little specific knowledge of healthcare financing and delivery, or of the history of the ACA.

How did the ACA (Obamacare) get enacted in 2009? From a political and policy standpoint, the ACA model was an odd choice for the Democrats since that program originally came out of a policy paper by the far-right Heritage Foundation, currently run by ex-Senator Jim DeMint, a Tea Party darling. It was originally a conservative free enterprise alternative to Hillarycare back in the 1990s.

The Democrats controlling Congress in 2008 and Obama made a conscious choice to mimic Romneycare, a free market program, already in place in Massachusetts. Here’s why:

A. Conservative, mainstream Democratic politicians did not want to alienate their deep pocket backers – i.e. big Rx and insurance companies. By using a private versus public insurance model for the exchanges, the ACA would increase their profits. Therefore, Obama thought that provider, insurance and pharmaceutical company money would be essential for an ad campaign designed to support the ACA – rather than oppose reform as they did with Hillarycare in the 1990s. He was 100 percent right.

B. Obama naively – and incorrectly – believed that the GOP would support the ACA, the Democrat’s version of a Republican program.

Sen. Williams, you already have the free market alternative to more government in the health care market. It is called the ACA, Obamacare.

The more effective solution, less expensive and covering all citizens, is what is in place in Europe, Australia, Canada and other developed nations – single payer, Medicare for All. Next time check the facts before going on TV.

Jack Bernard of Fayette County, a retired corporate executive, was a two-term county commissioner and former county Republican Party chairman in Jasper County.