Rx for ObamaCare: Republicans must perform radical surgery
By: Betsy McCaughey November 6, 2014
ObamaCare, the president’s signature health law, was de facto on the ballot Tuesday, and it got trounced. The new Republican Senate needs to live up to its promises, and do much more than gesture at ObamaCare repeal.
GOP Senate candidates campaigning against the health-care law captured at least seven seats, giving their party control of the Senate.
These new senators better live up to their pledges and put bills on the president’s desk to repeal the worst parts of ObamaCare. Don’t throw us mere crumbs, such as repeal of the medical-device tax.
Sen.-elect Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) ran the TV ad “Give Me a Shot,” pledging that when she gets ObamaCare in her sights, “she’s going to unload.” Taking aim at ObamaCare also helped GOP candidates win in Georgia, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.
The Obama administration pulled every trick to prevent this rout. It illegally delayed the employer mandate for two straight years because employers were cutting their workers’ hours to evade it.
This year, it delayed open enrollment on the ObamaCare exchanges from Oct. 15 until after Election Day – a shrewd move, since healthcare.gov “glitches” are expected to inflict more chaos on us the second time around.
Even so, as Nov. 4 neared, polls showed more Americans opposing ObamaCare than supporting it, making the law even more unpopular than when it was rammed through Congress in 2010.
Just before Election Day, residents in 20 states got notices their health plans were being canceled because they didn’t fit the one-size-fits-all ObamaCare definition of adequate insurance.
In Kentucky, 14,000 people got cancellations. That helped Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fend off Democratic challenger Allison Grimes. McConnell ran an emotional ad featuring a mother with a diabetic son whose plan was canceled.
Now it’s time for McConnell and other victors to make good on campaign promises.
McConnell, poised to be Senate majority leader, has pledged to repeal ObamaCare “root and branch.” Yet now he’s intimating he’ll target parts of the bill Democrats also dislike, low-hanging fruit such as the medical-device tax.
Not so fast. Activists didn’t march in the streets and man phone banks merely to get rid of a medical device tax.
Sure, Republicans don’t have the 60 votes needed, under Senate rules, to fend off a filibuster. But they can certainly see if a few Democrats are willing to do more than talk about “fixing” ObamaCare.
And the GOP only needs 51 senators to pass bills pertaining to spending and taxes under the “reconciliation” procedure. Democrats used reconciliation to weasel ObamaCare through in 2010.
McConnell ought to fight fire with fire, using reconciliation to repeal the following
parts of the law, and dare the president to use his veto:
- Repeal the job-killing employer mandate (Sec. 1513). Because of this, employers are holding their full-time workforce below 50 and pushing other workers below 30 hours a week.
- Repeal the freedom-killing individual mandate (Sec. 1501).
- Eliminate navigators (Sec. 1311). This is a permanent job bank for community activists, unions and other friends of the Democratic Party, such as the NAACP, SEIU and Planned Parenthood. They get hired to promote ObamaCare and enroll the uninsured, instead of relying on government employees. This scheme uses your premiums to fund the shadow army of the Democratic Party in between elections.
- Repeal the bailout for insurers (Sec. 1342). The law encourages insurers to price plans below cost, since taxpayer money makes them whole for most losses at the end of the year. John Q. Public is paying to fool himself and make ObamaCare look affordable.
- Repeal the controls on your doctor: Sec. 1311h1(B) empowers the secretary of Health and Human Services to dictate how doctors treat privately insured patients. That can force your doctor to choose between doing what’s best for you and avoiding a government penalty.
- Repeal IPAB (Sec. 3403), the panel of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats empowered to slash Medicare payments.
So far ObamaCare has put 6 million previously uninsured people on Medicaid and enrolled 2.5 million in ObamaCare private plans. That’s small potatoes in a country of 318 million, and a trivial payoff for tens if not hundreds of millions in new federal subsidies.
And it comes with the added cost of badly compromised care for countless patients with chronic conditions from AIDS to cancer.
Americans aren’t stuck with ObamaCare, at least not for longer than we’re stuck with Obama. When he’s gone, repeal and replace it. In the meantime, a Republican Senate owes voters a good faith effort to get rid of its worst parts.
Betsy McCaughey is author of “Beating ObamaCare 2014” and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.