Saturday, March 25, 2017

Health Care Reform Collapses

It was one of the most central arguments made by Republicans for seven years. They said over and over again that Obamacare needed to be repealed and replaced. It was a winning issue with the American people, who gave the GOP victories in the two recent midterm elections before finally handing them the presidency in 2016. The moment to reform health care finally arrived.

Unfortunately, the best moment has been wasted. A proposal was put forward, but it sunk after being revealed in a few weeks. It sort of makes me feel that all those years of winning elections was useless.

In my opinion, no one bares more blame than members of the House Freedom Caucus. Contrary to their arguments, this was a market plan that would that had many improvements from the Affordable Care Act. However, this grand health care plan was destroyed by eighteen members of the House of Representatives because they claimed it was too liberal, while 199 (six Republicans and 193 Democrats) opposed it for being too conservative. The consequences are massive. Any new Republican proposal would require support from Democrats because moving further to the right would lead to a lack of support among GOP moderates (the so-called Tuesday Group).

I don't think this is the end for reform, but a new bill in 2018 is likely to have less meaningful changes. It is now even more likely that Obamacare will stay in place. President Obama is smiling because his policy is maintained and any concessions made by Nancy Pelosi would be embarrassing to them. They want to prove that the Affordable Care Act is working and that means ensuring that there are no chances. As you'd expect, Democrats were ecstatic with the results.

The biggest loser of the American Health Care Act's failure is the American people. Some Republicans, including CNN contributor Jeffrey Lord, just want Obamacare to crash. I think this is a mistake because more people will get hurt from the existing law and they can blame the GOP for doing nothing. A 2013 report from eHealth, Inc found that Obamacare regulations like the essential health benefits requirement raises premiums by 47 percent for individual insurance plans. A study from the Brookings Institution in the fall of 2014 covered a state by state impact. It concluded that the Affordable Care Act has only been more costly. The whole point of handing them the keys to Congress and the White House was because they supported change.

As for the Republicans in Congress, they have decided to move on to other issues like tax reform and immigration policy. There's no real reason to waste extra political capital on health care if it is just going to stall things. I'm worried that some Republicans might continue trying to stay pure, rather than go with the advise of Reagan (example: "A flat tax or we're voting no.") which could really endanger the GOP in the 2018 midterms and 2020.

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