Oliver really wanted to talk with me. I hadn’t heard from him since he took a job at a major law firm about ten years ago. But NOW he wanted to talk. I checked my email late Wednesday evening. There were two emails, a Linked In message, a friend request on Facebook, and a message left on the office phone. I scheduled a phone appointment for 9 o’clock Thursday morning.
Oliver (name changed) wants to open his own office. We discussed where he would set up shop and the areas of law he would practice. I guessed that he was targeting the first of the year and wondered about the urgency to connect. And that is when he asked to purchase coverage for August 1st.
Now? Oliver had decided to quit his job right now while he could still purchase a health insurance policy under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Senate was debating repeal and seemed unconcerned about people like him, people with preexisting conditions. We had a heck of a time getting him insurance last time. Oliver didn’t want to take a chance.
The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) was released on June 22nd. I printed it, read it, and had an analysis posted by the next day. I’ve also printed and read Senator McConnell’s subsequent attempts. There is a good chance that I have dedicated more time and paper to these half-baked plans than most of his fellow senators. The question was never whether any of this could become law, but which senators would be forced to stop this charade. In the end it was Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John McCain (R-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME). One has to wonder if our Republican senator would have voted NO if the bill was actually going to pass.
But Oliver and millions of Americans just like him didn’t know what the Senate was going to do. Will this game of chicken continue until someone forgets to blink? Will President Trump goad the Senate into another vote, and another, until someone screws up? Will Trump further destabilize the health insurance market? Will there be health insurance coverage available?
It is way too early for Oliver to quit his job. He’s not ready. We reviewed the steps necessary to successfully create a business. I assured him that we will find him health insurance coverage the day he actually needs it.
We focus so much on the big picture. We know that this debate is about nearly 20% of our economy. We know that we are talking about the way Americans access health care. But we too often forget that there are real people impacted by these political decisions. Oliver. Your friends. Your parents. Maybe even you. It is time for Washington to see us.