Undoing Obamacare- part 2

Several weeks ago, I blogged on the need to face facts when repealing Obamacare. With this issue front and center this week, I’m returning to the topic to make a few more comments.

During the past several weeks, I’ve heard countless party strategists, Congressional representatives, and Senators explaining how the Republicans will repeal Obamacare. They are routinely asked how they will deal with Americans who have insurance now but did not before the law passed. Most change the subject and wax eloquently about the obvious misgivings of the ACA, and all of them claim to be committed to a new plan that retains coverage for everyone who is currently insured. In essence, they are recommitting the Republicans to maintaining the entitlements already granted by the ACA. Nobody seems to be acknowledging what was obvious six years ago: Obamacare is a massive redistribution scheme we cannot afford. It’s built on false expectations and a complete misunderstanding of economics.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have responded accordingly. “Obamacare repeal will be chaos,” they tell us. To those on the left, chaos is a synonym for markets, as it would require individuals to obtain their own insurance from “evil” providers free to price their services without guidance from Washington. It would be like much of what we do every day—buying groceries, changing cell phone plans, or eating at a restaurant. It would be “chaotic” in the sense that Americans would get back some of the control they use over exert their healthcare prior to the ACA.

Let’s turn back the clock for a minute. When Obamacare was on the docket in 2010, opponents argued vigorously that if passed, such an entitlement could NEVER be undone politically. For the last year, most of the same people are celebrating the impending repeal and replace. Were they right six years ago, or is it really possible to undo such a monstrosity?

For the most part, I think they were right six years ago, as demonstrated by the continued unwillingness to undo the entitlement. If coverage for all Americans is the goal, and if healthcare is such a great priority, then all Americans need to understand the financial reality. The current notion of healthcare—the idea that anyone should be able to pursue almost any treatment at almost any facility regardless of cost—is unworkable. Either individual consumers must be willing to make tough choices about what they need and are willing to pay for, or Washington will do it instead.

I do not favor a single payer plan, but most countries with universal healthcare tax everyone—not just “the rich”—to pay for it. Those who have more pay more, but average citizens have real skin in the game. When healthcare budgets run tight, politicians openly discuss rationing. The idea that government subsidies can magically “make healthcare affordable” is just ballooning the debt.

Is there hope? Yes, but only if we are willing to make bold changes. The idea of a three-year phase-in won’t get it done. Republicans have an opportunity to completely alter the role of government in healthcare, but doing so would require making some tough choices. I don’t see much evidence that they are willing to do so.

9 thoughts on “Undoing Obamacare- part 2

  1. I’m not sure about this. I hear a lot of optimism on foxnews and the reps hold all the cards. It seems like they could repeal Obamacare and do whatever they want.

  2. The ACA forced people to buy insurance through a mandate, deemed a tax by the Supreme Court. Without the mandate, it would have failed according to plan architect Johnathon Gruber. The government had to subsidize insurance companies to keep the exchanges together. Even so, the cost paid by the insured increased dramatically, although they are paying only part of the bill. Those covered by company plans don’t have any idea about the real cost of their health care. Covering everything is costly. There are no obvious answers but some kind of catastrophic coverage would seem likely to come out of this.

    1. Jericho: With EMTALA, we already pay for indigent coverage through government programs, hospital write-offs, etc., but it’s not clear who can “afford” to pay. I think you are asking if we should develop a formal system to do this. I think we should and everyone should contribute, not just the 50% who pay taxes. It’s a complicated question. I’ll consider posting on it.

  3. Single payer is the only way to eliminate the greed. Pay all doctors 100,000 and they should be happy, then rates will go down.

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