Well it only took about four years – illustrating the GOP’s impeccable penchant for timing (sarcasm added) – but they’ve finally come up with an alternative solution to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Calling it the Republican Study Committee’s American Healthcare Reform Act – also illustrating their impeccable marketing skills (seriously, don’t they have a market research team that could come up with something a little more market centric or PR friendly?) – the House GOP are unveiling it Wednesday on the heels of an effort from a minority of Republicans (12 Senate Republicans and 71 House Republicans, to be exact, or 12% of the Senate and 16% of the House) threatening to “shutdown the government” if they can’t successfully defund Obamacare before the law's Oct. 1 implementation date.
You can find a very detailed description on what’s in it at The Daily Caller. In short, while it has a lot of great ideas from family tax credits to more consumer control to desperately needed tort reform (i.e., frivolous medical malpractice lawsuit reform), it could still use more free market solutions from knocking down state borders for families to shop for insurance plans anywhere in the U.S. (as you can with any other kind of insurance) to scaling back unnecessary FDA regulations that inflate the costs of prescription drugs. But it’s a start.
Unfortunately though, I’m not sure how much good it could do now. At least an alternative solution has finally been presented, taking away the Obama administration’s and their Democratic allies’ favorite talking point: The GOP are just a party of ‘no’ and have no ideas (assuming the media even gets the word out on this plan). But my question is where was this plan during the 2012 election? That was arguably the last legitimate opportunity for them to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better.
Naturally, hardcore conservatives like your Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys keep whining “when will the GOP put up a fight” to get rid of Obamacare? They must have not gotten the memo that the House GOP have already tried to repeal this thing 40 times and instead of looking at the Democratic Senate where all legislation goes to die, they still blame the House GOP for “not doing enough.” Go figure.
The other thing that the far right pundits seem to be ignoring is that America (well, most of it anyway) was fully aware that they could’ve gotten rid of Obamacare last year by electing a new president and Republican-controlled Senate. I don’t buy for a minute that conservatives “didn’t vote for Mitt Romney” because they “didn’t believe that the Massachusetts governor that signed that state’s health care reform bill into law would repeal the other law in Washington.” So they’re telling me that instead of taking the only chance they had on a guy who promised a million times he would repeal the law on Day 1, they decided to stay home and leave no chance at all of a repeal by keeping the same administration in power?
The truth is despite the fact that Obamacare has been widely unpopular with a majority of the public since the day it was passed (with disapproval hitting a fresh two-and-a-half year high in the latest Real Clear politics average), there is something in it that specific demographics can manage to find and like about it, which makes it easier for the Democrats to effectively target and message with something that’s very simple to understand. Millennials like the provision that allows them to stay on their parents’ health care coverage until they are 26, and that’s all Obamacare is to them. Single women like the “free” subsidies for birth control, which is all Obamacare is for them. Latinos seem to be under the impression that they will now have health insurance under this law (Latinos have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group within the U.S., according to the Office of Minority Health). These were all demographics that broke hard for Obama in 2012.
As I was watching Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint speak on Fox News Sunday’s panel recently, I waited to hear what his plan would be in the event of a partial government shutdown. For starters, he claimed that if it were to happen, it would be viewed as “the president’s government shutdown.” Really? And how does he suppose the media will reinforce that? The partial government shutdown of ‘95/'96 sure wasn’t remembered that way. He then claimed that Heritage would “take the fight to the public” and inform them by “hosting town hall gatherings.”
Listen, I’ve been to lots of town hall gatherings. They’re filled with middle-aged to elderly white people who, in all likelihood, are voting Republican anyway. There are no millennials, single women, or minorities at these things, so let’s not kid ourselves.
The fundamental problem with the ironically entitled “Affordable Care Act” is that there is no possible way, no mathematical reality that makes it anywhere near “affordable,” contrary to Obama’s promise that it would “reduce health insurance premiums” (something The Washington Post gave him three Pinocchios for). All it takes is a simple understanding of supply and demand economics. Obamacare aggressively attempts to extend coverage for another 30 to 35 million people, thus skyrocketing demand. But according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of medical school students entering family medicine and primary care has fallen by more than 25%, in addition to six out of 10 current primary care physicians retiring earlier due to lower incomes and less autonomy stemming from Obamacare – thus decreasing supply.
So on what planet with rising demand and falling supply do consumer costs go down?
The real reason why Obamacare was passed is simple. When Dr. Ben Carson asked Democratic strategist Joe Trippi that very same question after illustrating how, “Obamacare is going to get a lot worse than this. This is the beginning of the collapse because, usually, when you roll out a big program, you roll it out bit by bit. You determine what’s working. … But to try to roll out something this massive without really knowing what the intricacies are is quite foolish.”
Trippi simply replied, “Because that’s when [the Democrats] had the votes. Frankly, they wouldn’t have had the votes today. They got it passed when they could. That’s what politics is about.”
At least he’s honest.
Obamacare was nothing more than a federal power grab for Washington, pure and simple. While the GOP’s long-awaited alternative plan is a great start, I’m afraid it’s come as too little, too late for America. Quite frankly, I’m fed up with the incompetence of both parties who care more about winning political battles on the campaign trail than doing their jobs. I’ve come to realize that while Republicans are way better at managing efficient government, they’re pathetic at managing efficient campaigns. Conversely, while Democrats are terrible at managing efficient government, they’re writing the book at managing efficient campaigns (from organization to messaging to getting out the vote).
When it comes to health care reform, the Democrats beat the GOP to the punch. It took the Democrats years to build up their 60-seat filibuster proof Senate majority, something the GOP won’t be able to duplicate under their current strategies.