Republicans Have a Plot, but Not a Plan, for Obamacare

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Rep. Mike Coffman are marching ahead with orders to eliminate Obamacare even though they don’t have a solution for what to do next.

Everyone is biased to some degree or another. We’ve said it many times in this space that it is absurd for anyone in any profession — including (and, perhaps, especially) journalists and politicians – to pretend that they do not possess that very-human instinct of forming and holding opinions on subjects.

Some biases are more correct than others, of course, and too often we get so caught up in screaming “bias!” that we forget to consider whether or not a perspective is actually pretty accurate.

Bias is natural, and bias is fine…so long as it does not override truth and ignore reality. But that is exactly what is happening in Congress right now.

It is no longer possible, if indeed it ever was, to look at Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare as anything other than pure partisan political point-scoring. As Aaron Blake writes for the Washington Post today, there is a growing belief among lawmakers and policy analysts that a successful repeal of Obamacare probably isn’t possible except in the political point-scoring sense of the word “success.” Republicans might be able to repeal Obamacare, but nobody can argue with a straight face that doing so is going to be beneficial for most Americans. From The Post:

Gary Claxton, an analyst at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, compares Obamacare to a stool, in which the unpopular parts of the law are helping prop up the more popular parts.

For example, if Republicans want to get rid of the individual mandate (and they do) while keeping the popular requirement that insurers cover preexisting conditions, Claxton said, “it would blow up the insurance market” because insurers would be required to accept unhealthy people without also mandating healthy people sign up, as Obamacare does.

“The longer the period between repeal and replace is, the more the market unravels,” Claxton said. “And you’ve blown up the bridge behind you, and you’re heading into battle, you can’t go backwards. You’ve gotta figure it out, or else things get really bad.”

‘Do you know what to do after we repeal Obamacare?’ ‘No idea, how about you?’

If you can’t get past your own bias toward the Washington Post here, that’s okay. Take a look at what Tom Howell, Jr. of the staunchly-conservative Washington Times wrote on Wednesday about Obamacare repeal efforts:

House Republicans emerged from a meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence Wednesday pledging to repeal and replace Obamacare in an orderly way, even signaling that Donald Trump is ready and willing to use his pen to stabilize the transition to a new program.

Mr. Pence and GOP troops said the president-elect is working on as-yet-unspecified ways [Pols emphasis] to use “executive authority” to make sure the millions of people who gained insurance under President Obama’s signature overhaul do not see their coverage unravel while Republicans in charge of Congress forge ahead with fast-track repeal without a replacement in hand…

Republicans who met with Mr. Pence offered scant details on the timeline for repeal, though budget instructions told a quartet of House and Senate committees to report their ideas by Jan. 27, signaling a swift timeline for getting their plans to the floor in the first months of Mr. Trump’s administration.

Replacing the law will be much harder, since it is unclear whether Republicans can reach a consensus on a plan and peel off enough Senate Democrats to overcome a potential filibuster. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Chris Collins, New York Republican and early Trump supporter, said the party might be able to release a proposal within six months, though other members would not commit to a timeline after the Pence meeting.

“Look out for the American people.”

President Obama’s last words to Congressional Democrats in Obamacare strategy meeting this week.

You can argue whether or not Obamacare is bad and should be repealed. What you cannot argue, because the evidence is overwhelmingly clear, is that Republicans have a plan for replacing the Affordable Health Care Act. Republicans have no idea what to do next, and that’s not an opinion; the GOP openly admits that they have no solution and don’t really anticipate coming up with one any time soon. President-elect Donald Trump is even urging Congress to “be careful” in how it deals with the aftermath of a potential repeal because nobody knows what to do with the sharp end of the pencil.

The longer this Obamacare repeal discussion continues, the more it becomes clear that Republicans really don’t seem to have much interest in the practical effects of their political maneuvering. As we noted back in December, Republicans are apparently willing to concede that the health insurance industry is going to need a massive bailout of federal money in order to prevent the entire economy from collapsing in the aftermath of a repeal-and-not-replace maneuver in Congress. Again, from the Washington Times:

Republicans said Mr. Trump will likely use executive action on “day one” to roll back various parts of Mr. Obama’s agenda, though he will swiftly turn to additional steps to proactively pave the way for a stable Obamacare transition, since insurers will need certainty to price their plans.

“There are market realities to this,” Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, said. [Pols emphasis]

“Market realities,” says Coffman. This is the very same Mike Coffman who introduced legislation in 2014 designed TO PREVENT A BAILOUT OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY. Check out this speech from the House floor given by Coffman on January 10, 2014:

Republicans are going to have to bail out the insurance industry in 2017 because their ham-handed efforts at repealing Obamacare are going to create massive problems for the insurance industry that didn’t exist until they started screwing with health care laws. This might have been a bad idea in 2014, but today, lawmakers such as Coffman are just going to shrug and mutter something like “market realities.” Again, this “market reality” wouldn’t be happening on its own; it is a reality that will be THE RESULT OF GUTTING OBAMACARE.

Here’s Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) ranting about bailouts for the insurance industry in December 2015 (skip ahead to the 5:40 mark):

Said Gardner: “So banking on a bailout, they sold the American people a bill of goods.”

And what does Gardner have to say about massive bailouts in the aftermath of a Republican repeal of Obamacare?

…[crickets]…

Obamacare has been a political hot potato for many years now, with Republicans using it as a bludgeon to grow their ranks in successive election cycles. In terms of political strategerie, that move seems to have worked for the GOP. But what now?

Republicans are so intent on proving their bias toward Obamacare that they are willing to make millions of Americans suffer just so they can make some sort of political statement. That’s not bias. It’s madness.

 

4 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavieDavie says:

    At least Republicans have a name for their replacement, if and when it arrives.  

    As Obamacare is named for the President responsible, so too will Donald Trump be honored with his signature achievement: Dontcare

  2. Republican 36 says:

    It was easy for the congressional Republicans to pass over sixty bills to repeal Obamacare as long as President Obama remained in office because they knew he would veto each one. Because of that, they never had to seriously consider or form a consensus within their caucus for a replacement. I suspect they really never wanted to replace it.

    Also, since Obamacare's enactment, if the Republicans had introduced a replacement, they would have placed themselves in the position of negotiating with the President because any replacement, no matter how wildly divergent from Obamacare, meant they were willing to discuss amending the law and thereby agreeing to a federal government sponsored healthcare system.

    Now they find themselves in control of both the executive and legislative branches of government, with their specific campaign promise to replace Obamacare, hanging over their head like a guillotine, plus 22 million people insured under the present law, as well as a very nervous group of insurance companies and hospitals nationwide who have structured their business and their profitability on the existing law and they haven't got a clue what a replacement should look like even though, no matter what they do, it will affect almost 20% of the national economy.

    When all is said and done, the repeal and replacement bills passed, and the political hoopla subsides, the national healthcare law will look a lot like the present law and we will still be able to call it Obamacare. The bottom line is the Republicans agreed, in fact campaigned, that they would "replace" Obamacare which means they accept the idea of a national law governing healthcare for individuals and that means President Obama has won. 

  3. ajb says:

    Republicans need to grow a pair and vote to repeal. On day 1 they can use reconciliation to end all subsidies and roll back Medicaid expansion. They need to keep their campaign promises and show the American people what they stand for. 

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