The Republican plan to repeal Obamacare is deeply unpopular, but that has not deterred Republicans from trying to do it anyway. The problem, as Sen. Chuck Grassley demonstrated at a recent town hall, is that they are completely detached from the reality of everyday Americans.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is a fairly typical Republican. Like the rest of his party, he is eager to deprive millions of Americans access to affordable health care they would not have without Obamacare.
Maybe his eagerness is based on the fact that he has absolutely no idea how health insurance works or what it costs. His insurance is funded by taxpayers, after all, so he has no reason to bother knowing how his coverage works or what it costs. As he told a constituent at a recent town hall in Greenfield, he just throws that paperwork in the mail.
CONSTITUENT: The research on the internet told me that all DC exchanges for these politicians in Washington — they have to be on the gold plan, or they get their own plans. And it's a 70 percent subsidy from the taxpayers. So why don't you just tell everybody how much you pay per month for premiums? And what's your deductible?
GRASSLEY: When I get my check stub in the mail, I don't even open the envelope.
CONSTITUENT: So you're saying you don't even know what it is? I find that hard to believe. I think everybody here would know what their monthly premium is.
GRASSLEY: I am not known for telling falsehoods. So I'm telling you, I don't know. But if you want to know, I can get it to you.
CONSTITUENT: I'd like the whole room to know.
GRASSLEY: Well, then, you tell the whole room. But I can get it to you in the mail.
Grassley's constituent is right that Grassley's employer — the federal government, funded by taxpayers — covers about 70 percent of Grassley's insurance premium.
Grassley's constituent is wrong, however, to assume that Grassley would know how it works.
Republicans frequently make statements about the cost of health care and insurance that are in no way based on any facts. They have for years claimed that Obamacare has made health insurance more expensive and less accessible, when the opposite is true.
And Donald Trump recently claimed that insurance costs $15 a month — an assertion so absurd and blatantly false, it is not surprising that the plan he and House Republicans support to destroy Obamacare would make things significantly worse for millions of Americans.
That Grassley has the luxury of not worrying or needing to know what his insurance costs says a lot about why Republicans do not understand how to improve health care access in this country. Or why their latest bill would be such a disaster for Americans. Maybe they should start listening to their constituents — and open their mail.