You’ve got to feel badly for Republicans. Having control of the House, Senate, and White House is not much fun. It leaves the GOP with zero excuses for being asleep at the wheel.
Inexplicably, no significant piece of legislation has been signed into law since President Trump took office. If it doesn’t happen soon, the only excuse left may be, "The dog ate my healthcare bill."
Granted, GOP senators are currently drafting a bill, despite the fact that the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), also known as "Trumpcare," is sitting on their desks, practically begging to be voted upon.
Why do Senate Republicans need a separate bill? They have been pretty mum about the details. The mainstream media has not helped either. They’re too focused on important, substantive issues like impeachment, Russia, Watergate, Sean Spicer’s daily abuse session (which some call a press briefing), and how many times the president tweeted that day.
They also spend endless hours analyzing riveting Capitol Hill testimony by people like Sally Yates and James Clapper, which undoubtedly benefits our country (though nobody is quite sure how).
This leaves little time to focus on petty, trivial issues like healthcare, tax reform, the budget, immigration, and North Korea, which will only determine the fate of future generations for decades to come. Nothing major.
Despite the dearth of coverage, senators have hinted they are afraid to vote for the House’s bill because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says it will cause 23 million people to lose coverage. This is somewhat bizarre. One main component of the bill is that it eliminates the individual mandate, which forced millions of young, healthy people to enroll, as a means to pay for sick people. Of course this bill will lead to millions of people no longer being covered, because that’s exactly the point — giving them the freedom to "lose" coverage voluntarily.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who came up with the "Jimmy Kimmel litmus test," was quoted in Politico saying he wants to fulfill the words of President Trump, who “consistently promised a health care plan that would reduce premiums, eliminate mandates, ensure continuous coverage and protect people with pre-existing conditions." Any GOP plan, he says, "needs to meet that bar." This would seem to include keeping the Medicaid expansion intact, which goes against one of the key components of the House bill.
The Hill reported that Republicans may also want to keep some Obamacare taxes in place. And now there are reports they want to retain key Obamacare restrictions on insurance companies, which is one of the main causes of skyrocketing premiums, and the hemorrhaging of hundreds of millions of dollars by companies like Aetna and Anthem. And let’s not forget, the House Bill offers so-called "tax credits," many of which will go to people who don’t pay income tax, which sounds more like wealth redistribution than credits.
Let’s recap. The GOP wants to keep Medicaid expansion, Obamacare taxes, Obamacare restrictions on insurance companies, and cover pre-existing conditions. That sounds a lot like Obamacare. In fact, it begs the question I asked on a recent podcast episode — how on Earth does it differ?
The most dramatic difference appears to be that the GOP plan eliminates the individual mandate. Which means it offers the handouts and freebies of Obamacare, with no way to pay for them. If this is true, the plan is not Obamacare lite. It’s Obamacare on steroids.
The solution is pretty clear. Instead of performing emergency surgery on a bad plan, Congress needs to separate repeal from replace. That would give them a clean slate to start fresh with, creating a plan that keeps the government’s role limited. One that allows private industry, competition, and the free market to do what they do best — lower costs and create a better healthcare system.
The response to this suggestion is always the same. "It will never get through reconciliation in the Senate. The Democrats will filibuster." Perhaps. But can we at least try, and see what happens? Maybe Democrats will let it pass, gambling that it will spell the Republicans’ downfall. We won’t know unless we try. If a straight repeal fails, we can always go back to the current flawed approach.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., introduced the most attractive bill yet, comprised of one simple line, "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted."
Why not give this approach a chance? Nothing else seems to be working. Or, is the GOP afraid they may actually succeed in repealing Obamacare, a promise they have made repeatedly for the past seven years?
Josh Margulies is the host of "Politics: Clear and Simple," a daily podcast offering analysis with an intellectual, conservative perspective. He has worked as an intern for the "Imus in the Morning" program, and has hosted several online political talk shows. Josh is currently a digital marketing consultant. He has assisted companies like Lockheed Martin, Netflix, and Bloomberg. Josh is also an ordained Rabbi who has studied Talmudic law. To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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