A commentary by Darin Von Ruden, President of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
Early Sunday morning, Sept. 29, the House Republican majority in Congress amended the government spending bill to include yet another attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act.
Though the House bill would keep government operations temporarily funded through Dec. 15, it demands a year-long delay in continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The House leadership knows very well that their bill will not pass the Senate, or ever be signed by the President.
The Senate and President have made it clear that they will not allow the Affordable Care Act to be held hostage in order to keep the government running, and will not accept any changes to the healthcare law in this spending bill. Such policy provisions do not belong in the spending bill.
Regardless, the House passed the buck back to the Senate with their purely symbolic bill in order to please their Tea Party supporters, and undermine the Affordable Care Act and the President.
The Senate is scheduled to convene midday today (Monday, Sept. 30) and would have about 10 hours to rework the spending bill and send back to the House. This pretty well ensures a government shutdown at midnight on Tuesday.
This is just beyond crazy.
There's been a lot of confusion and misinformation about the Affordable Care Act. Namely that it's "government run healthcare." It's not. But it is regulatory.
The ACA establishes a competitive marketplace where private insurers compete for business and requires accurate and simple comparison of plans, including information about medical performance, price, and benefits. It also does not allow for denial because of pre-existing conditions.
Wisconsin Farmers Union supports the Affordable Care Act. And though it may not be perfect, it gives many of our members a chance to be covered by health insurance. Many have not been able to find, or can't afford, access to coverage as individuals or families.
About 170,000 farmers and rural citizens would be able to get covered through exchanges.
Rural residents have traditionally been unable to secure affordable, good quality health insurance because they are predominately self-employed and run small businesses. If they can get insurance (and many farmers can't), they generally pay way too much for way too little.
Insurance exchanges will broaden risk pools for these people and bring down costs of insurance and health care dollars spent – a game changer and enormous relief to our family farmers and rural neighbors.
Wisconsin Farmers Union calls on House Republicans to stop playing politics. Every American deserves health care that is comprehensive, affordable and accessible, regardless of occupation or geographic area.
It is shameful to be playing partisan games with our health.
Who knows what will happen in Congress tomorrow? But today, the Affordable Care Act is law. And we think our members are going to like the changes and maybe have a first ever shot at having health insurance for their families.