Monday, June 26, 2017

GOP Health Care: What We May Achieve

By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

The Republicans were once for full repeal of Obamacare.  Then, they got the power to do so, and they refuse to pull the trigger.

The first Obamacare repeal and replace bill from the House had too little support because it was too much like the Affordable Care Act law they claimed was the problem.  Now, the U.S. Senate is taking a stab at the problem with a bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). As with the House bill, it's not only not a full repeal of Obamacare, but it largely resembles something we would call "Obamacare-Lite".  That said, while it is not what we would constitutionally seek, which is full removal of federal influence on the health care industry, it is better than what the Democrats forced into place under Obama.

With the new Senate bill, States will have more latitude in opting out of federal health care regulations imposed by Obamacare, and give the States the option to pursue free-market opportunities.  The new waivers do not allow States to completely escape the iron fist of Obamacare, but the Republican bill does offer the States a little maneuvering room within the law, without actually repealing the law.

While the GOP Senate bill does not repeal Obamacare, it does repeal the taxes, making the program fund-hungry, which may put it into a position to be further monkeyed with in the near future as an excuse to "fix it" due to its shortcomings based on the lost revenue.  In other words, a strategic move that will enable more maneuvering at incremental moments.

Along with the suspension of taxation the Senate bill also suspends federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  Unfortunately, it is only slotted for a one year suspension.  A start, but unless within that year the funding for the abortion organization is permanently eliminated, it will start up again like an old jalopy hooked up to jumper cables.  This tells me that the manipulation by design by the Republicans at incremental moments will occur within a year, with the likelihood that the changes will extend the Planned Parenthood funding loss from Obamacare.

The bill, in short, is not a repeal of Obamacare, but it may be a baby step in the right direction, and a planned step of many steps to work towards dismantling the federal health care law.

It frustrates me that they don't just repeal the whole thing.  It's political theater, designed to make it look like they are doing all they can.  The reality is, they fear the Democrat backlash, and prefer being called mean with the changes to Obamacare, than whatever else the Democrats may have for them if they were to eliminate the unconstitutional intrusion of the federal government into the health care industry in the first place.  But, like I've said, already, it may be simply a bite... the first bite in eating the giant donkey carcass that some call Obamacare.

While the Republicans demonize the group of Republicans fighting for a more conservative bill, and a stronger move towards repeal, Ted Cruz and gang seems to be moving towards being willing to compromise.  Resolve is in play, and time is running out.

There are also those members of the GOP who stand in direct opposition to the Tea Party gang, and are fighting like Democrats have been to protect Obamacare.  Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, for example, are fighting to protect the funding for Planned Parenthood. Dean Heller of Nevada is fighting to keep Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.

Hopefully, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Ron Johnson can stand firm on their conservative principles, and if not bring about full repeal, at least improve the bill so that it grants more flexibility in coverage options, further reduce federal control and funding of Medicaid so that State safety net programs can become the programs of choice for those in need, and introduce other market mechanisms into the health insurance markets.

Full repeal may still be in the future, but it may not be with this bill.  Still, I welcome a step in the right direction.  A small step forward is still better than the full horror of the federal intrusion the Democrats launched with the Affordable Care Act.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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