How to Win the Repeal Battle
When President Ronald Reagan was asked why he settled for a 5 percent tax cut in 1981 when he had proposed cutting taxes by twice as much, he answered: “Half a loaf is better than none.”
That’s advice the Republican Party should heed right now.
The Senate’s failure this week to repeal ObamaCareis a bitter disappointment to the 18 million people in the individual market struggling with unaffordable premiums and deductibles. It’s also bad news for another 8 million who are opting to pay hefty penalties rather than buy those unaffordable plans.
And things are only getting worse. Health insurers are asking for giant rate increases this fall, even as high as 50 percent in Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. Ouch.
If members of Congress were feeling the same pain, they’d be more focused on repealing and replacing the collapsing law. But they’ve got a sweetheart deal. Even though the Affordable Care Act requires them to purchase their coverage on ObamaCare exchanges and follow the same rules as the rest of us, former President Barack Obama set up a way for them to weasel out of it: They get to choose from 57 gold plans and have John Q. Public pick up most of the tab.
Meanwhile, in nearly half the counties in the nation, ordinary folks will have only one insurer available. Or none at all.
Congress needs to stop horsing around. Republican senators lack a majority to fully repeal and replace ObamaCare. Resistance to Medicaid reform is holding up the works. At least six GOP senators won’t budge on it.
The way forward is to set aside reforming Medicaid for another day, and pass a repeal bill immediately to undo the coercive individual mandate, the job-killing employer mandate and the ObamaCare regulations that are making private insurance unaffordable.
Since several Republican senators are balking at changing Medicaid, GOP leaders should pass the other half of repeal and replace, to rescue consumers in the individual market. There’s no reason not to seize half a victory.
Republicans have enough votes in both the House and Senate to pass a bill that gives consumers choices, premium relief and generous protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
There’s a consensus that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get insurance and not be stuck paying out of pocket more than anyone else. Republicans and Democrats agree on that. The issue is who pays the hefty price tag for their care.
ObamaCare forced healthy buyers in the individual market to foot the entire bill. It’s called community pricing. And it’s the single biggest reason premiums doubled since 2013, according to actuaries at the financial-consultant firm Milliman.
Healthy people would pay in, but never reach their sky-high deductibles. Instead, premiums extorted from them would be used to cover the huge medical bills for the chronically ill. Call it “extortion care.”
ObamaCare also forces people to overpay for benefits they don’t want — “10 essential benefits” such as contraceptives and drug-abuse counseling. Essential for whom? The law’s defenders call anything less “junk insurance.” As if Washington knows what you need.
Under both the House and Senate bills, states can allow insurers to offer policies with flexible coverage options and lower premiums. It’s a pro-choice approach to insurance.
The public is ready for these changes, and Republican lawmakers have the votes to pass them now.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author of “Beating ObamaCare.”