Nearly 7 years ago Obamacare was forced on the American people by the Democrat Party. The hostile takeover of one third of our economy has been a dream of the left since Harris Wofford made health care a key issue in his improbable victory for a US Senate seat in the 1991 Pennsylvania special election. Paul Begala and James Carville were key consultants on that race, and the lessons they learned there were carried into Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign.
When Democrats pushed this bill through I remember talking to my wife, telling her that once this went into effect it would be nearly impossible to get rid of. The longer people lived under these rules, the more people started receiving subsidies, the more people would begin to see this as an “entitlement.” Once those kinds of roots take hold, it would become nearly impossible to rip out this legislative weed. Time is always on the side of Big Government. The Democrats know this, which is why they rammed this through no matter how many seats it cost them in the short term.
This year is the first chance the Republican party has realistically had to end the nightmare of Obamacare once and for all. For years they have made its repeal a rallying cry, asking us to overlook their flaws and their failures in other areas like tax reform and budget control. They promised us that once they finally controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House, we would finally see an end to Obamacare. Unfortunately, even though we are mere weeks into obtaining that control, Republicans in Washington are already backing away from their promise.
First we heard that a repeal would come quickly, but its effects would be delayed for anywhere from 2 to 4 years. This would mean that people would still have to live under Obamacare for the next 4 years, even though it had been repealed. More recently, the focus has been on a “repeal and replace” strategy, but early drafts were shown to be simply watered down versions of Obamacare, full of the same type of mandates and subsidies that made the original such a failure. It’s gotten so bad that the House leadership has taken to keeping the new draft for a replacement plan under lock and key. We are stepping dangerously close to the “you have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” level of deception that was used by Democrats for the original Obamacare.
What seems to be happening on Capitol Hill is the convergence of two flawed premises. The first premise is this idea that Obamacare needs to be “replaced.” It gives in to the same mentality that the new insurance and coverage mandates and subsidies it created have indeed taken on the mantle of an “entitlement” to the American people.
In all the talk about people who may lose health insurance if Obamacare’s subsidies are repealed, we forget about the millions of people who lost their health insurance when Obamacare went into effect. We forget about all the people who lost their jobs when companies cut staff to get under the 50 employee threshold for requiring health insurance coverage. We forget about the people who got switched from full-time to part-time, and all the people who had their part-time hours cut, again so companies could get under the threshold for providing health insurance. We’re forgetting about skyrocketing premiums heaped on top of skyrocketing deductibles because of taxes on “Cadillac Coverage” plans, and mandated minimum benefits.
The old system before Obamacare may have had its flaws, but it was better than what we have now by orders of magnitude. Demanding that we replace a massive government health care law with ANOTHER massive government health care law assumes that Obamacare actually made things better. It didn’t. It made them a lot worse.
The second flawed premise is this mistaken idea that having health insurance is equal to having health care. Health insurance is a commercial product sold by private companies. Nothing more, nothing less. It only has value because the costs of paying for health and medical services have become so expensive, where a serious illness could spell financial ruin for a family. Where Obamacare failed the American people is that it focused on simply making sure people had health insurance, but it didn’t consider whether or not that insurance was either a quality product, nor a good value. Unfortunately, Republicans are looking to repeat the same mistakes made by the Democrats.
Simply making sure people have health insurance does not mean they are going to get good health care, especially when government regulations make those insurance plans outrageously expensive. If you want to fix the problems in the health care industry, you need to fix the problem of skyrocketing health care costs. That means regulatory reform, tort reform, less government intervention, and more competition. By pushing a big health insurance industry bill, the Republicans are falling into the same trap the Democrats did in trying to manage the symptoms without ever curing the disease.
Every state in the nation requires people to purchase automobile liability insurance in order to drive on the roads. Get caught driving without insurance and you can lose your license. Do you know why nobody throws a fit about being forced to buy car insurance? Because it is affordable with plenty of competition, and the reason it is affordable is because government does not try to micro-manage either the car insurance or the auto repair industry!
The lack of government interference in these industries means that the free market sets the price for these services, not the government. If the government got as heavily involved in the auto insurance industry as they are in the health care industry, we would see the same problems and the same ballooning costs cropping up.
Obamacare was a massive bureaucratic solution in search of a problem that was never intended to FIX health care problems. It was designed to pave the way for a single-payer government controlled health care system. We don’t need a Trumpcare, or a Ryancare, or whatever you want to call the GOP’s proposed “fix” for the health insurance industry.
Just repeal the disaster that is Obamacare and start working on standalone bills that will begin to address the drivers of health care costs.