Grassley fails

BY ART CULLEN

Iowa was the first of 19 states to see its individual health care exchange marketplace collapse under the Affordable Care Act provisions authored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley helped Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus write the financial provisions for the ACA, known commonly as Grassleycare, that sowed the seeds of the collapse of the individual market. CoOpportunity Iowa, the cooperative health care company, failed because the Republicans controlling Congress would not release funds owed to it under Grassleycare.

What has Chuck Grassley done to help fix the law?

He voted to repeal it in its entirety and replace it with … nothing.

That is, return to the old system under which we saw our health care premiums at this newspaper rise 68% one year and 78% the next in the two years before the ACA was signed into law. In fact, we testified to the horrors of the old system before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee when it was chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa.

That is all Grassley did.

He never reached out to fix what was wrong. He never asked Democrats for their ideas on how to fix the law. He went along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who gathered with some of his pals behind closed doors and wrote a health insurance law that nobody else saw. That’s because there was nothing in it. The Senate bill had less than 20% support among the American people. Max Baucus, a Democrat, invited Chuck Grassley, a Republican, to help write Grassleycare. When the Republicans tried to craft a health care law to replace Grassleycare, the Democrats were not let in the room, much less given a writing pen.

Chuck Grassley has failed Iowa.

He should be asking right now what Democrats could do to help his helpless GOP caucus out of the nightmare it created. McConnell and Grassley did everything they could to derail the law, turn the public to contempt toward President Obama, and not bother to write a law that could replace Grassleycare.

McConnell and Grassley had seven years to write a replacement. They couldn’t get it done.

They can’t get anything done worthwhile.

We’ll cut Sen. Joni Ernst some slack. She did not campaign against Grassleycare for seven years. She did not write the bill. She voted as she was told, right on down the party line to destroy health insurance for all and seriously undermine the Medicaid system.

Maybe it should be Ernst who asks the Democrats to give the GOP an assist out of the hole it dug.

About 60% of the public already is on a public plan — federal or state. Grassley and Ernst are on that nice federal program that we would like to have for the same price. What to do with the rest of us?

That’s a question Grassley has an obligation to answer.

He can’t.

He should return his paycheck. He is a failure.

He failed to write Grassleycare properly in the first place. He created a system to fail. He could not succeed in repealing and replacing it. He and McConnell can’t get the job done. They failed. Big time.

A better prescription

Fewer zealots in Congress with nothing in mind but their own ambitions would help deliver health care to small business owners in Iowa like us. We found somebody who fits the bill as a fair-minded man who wants to run against Steve King for the House: Meet Dr. John Paschen of Ames, a highly regarded pediatrician who stopped by the office Monday to introduce himself. He was reared in rural Camanche near Davenport, attended Iowa State as a pre-vet med major and was encouraged to attend medical school instead.

One reason he wants to run is to keep Sen. Grassley from shutting down hospitals in Pocahontas, Sac and Ida counties. That would have happened under any three of the bills considered by the House and Senate. Paschen wants universal health coverage. He wants to find a way to legalize undocumented immigrants. He wants to preserve rural communities. He thinks we can improve Iowa water quality and make farmers more prosperous through a strong conservation title in the farm bill. He is not an anti-gun nut, but he believes in gun safety like the NRA does.

Paschen is a serious man who takes care in answering questions. He is thoughtful and deliberate. The only thing holding him back is an ethical concern: He is a pediatrician and feels a tremendous obligation to his patients. He has determined that he can best serve them by protecting health care provisions that work and fixing provisions that don’t. He understands the system from differing perspectives. He was in Manson listening to a more conservative editor tug on his ear. The editor asked him not to be a predictable party vote if elected, to always vote in the best interests of constituents. Paschen pledged that he will. We believe him, like him and support him. We hope you do, too, when you meet him. King and Grassley have had their shot. What is the product over the past seven years of Republican control? Not a darn thing. Throw the rascal out. Vote for Dr. John Paschen. The doctor knows the healthier way.