Republicans Don’t Do Health Care Reform

I hesitate to call any part of the Republican Party “pragmatic,” but apparently some of them have some sense that the entire American public might not see things the way they do.

So over the past several days I’ve seen news stories saying some congressional leaders want to keep some parts of Obamacare. The fix they are in is that some parts of the ACA are now in effect, and most of those parts have proved to be popular.

For example, 2.5 million young adults are now insured on their parents health care plan who couldn’t get insurance before. To date, the ACA has said Medicare recipients $3.5 billion on prescription drugs. Several hundred thousand seniors have taken advantage of the various free preventive care screenings now available to them. This summer $1.3 billion in rebate checks are going out to people who were overcharged for their insurance.

On top of that, if the Supremes strike down the ACA this summer, the Medicare system could be thrown into chaos, at least temporarily.

So, over the past few days I’ve seen several news stories saying that some congressional Republicans are planning to keep the “good” Obamacare bits. In particular, they want to keep the provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26; they want to eliminate the prescription drug doughnut hole; and they want to provide that insurance companies have to insure people with pre-existing conditions.

However, as soon as one of these stories comes out, another story comes out saying that other congressional leaders demand complete and unconditional repeal. No walkbacks. John Boehner seems to take both positions, on alternate days.

At TPM, Sahil Kapur writes that Republicans are being warned not to go wobbly on Obamacare.

FreedomWorks and Club for Growth, two powerful conservative interest groups that are fresh off of purging the Senate’s longest-serving Republican for insufficient fealty to the right, are flexing their muscles.

“The Club for Growth supports complete repeal of Obamacare. And complete doesn’t mean partial. It means complete,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the group. “We urge the so-called ‘tea party’ Republicans to keep their promises to voters and continue to fight for complete repeal as well.”

The “pragmatists,” relatively speaking, want to have a fallback position in case the ACA is entirely overturned and the benefits people had begun to enjoy from it dry up. They want to be able to say to voters that they can still have their 20-something children on their health care benefits and that the doughnut hole can still be closed.

As for insurance for pre-existing conditions, there is no way the private insurance industry can do that without the individual mandate, a complication that Republicans refuse to address. But the ideological purists don’t want to promise anything.

Dean Clancy, who leads health care advocacy for FreedomWorks, said the group “would be very concerned about bills to resurrect parts of Obamacare.”

He said Republicans should take no responsibility for the broken system that would result.

“It would be the height of folly for Republicans to say, OK, this is our problem now,” he said. “It’s not the Republicans’ fault if 25-year-old slackers suddenly are dropped from mom and dad’s health insurance policy. It’s not the Republicans’ fault if various other provisions of Obamacare are no longer on the books. … The American people need to have a chance to reflect on the fact that the Democrats basically rammed an unconstitutional bill down their throat.”

We could quibble about who is ramming what, and where.

A few days ago Jonathan Chait recalled that Republicans promised a comprehensive health care reform plan in 1993, when they defeated “Hillarycare.”

In 1993, Bill Clinton tried to reform health care, and it appeared a strong enough threat that Republicans devised their own plan in response. It was a great way to send the message “we have a plan, too.” When Clinton’s plan collapsed, he made feelers toward the GOP plan, but Republicans turned against it, promising instead to start over in the next Congress.

For the next sixteen years, Republicans did zero to advance the cause of comprehensive health-care reform.

I don’t remember them even talking about it, except to pooh-pooh people who complained about the health care system. We have the best health care system in the world, after all [/scarcasm].

In 2009, President Obama started working on health-care reform, and Republicans again insisted they really truly did want to reform the health-care system, just not in this particular way. Plan? TBD. Then they won control of the House and promised to immediately get to work on a replacement plan. Result: zero. Evidence of any progress toward said plan: zero.

Recently Rep. Paul Ryan told editors of the Washington Examiner that it would be a mistake for Republicans to offer any specific legislation before the November election. Instead, they should offer a “vision.” I take it “vision” is the new “bullshit.”

Back to Jonathan Chait:

In the same interview, Ryan says maybe Republicans will reform the deductibility of health insurance: “On tax treatment of health care, some of our folks really like deductions, others like the tax credit route.” That sounds like a possible first step. Except the Ryan budget already assumes that it will close trillions of dollars in tax deductions like that for employer-provided health care, and then it plows all that revenue back into lower tax rates. So, no money for tax credits or any other way to support health insurance.

The health care system is very complicated and made up of countless moving parts that have to work together. That’s why the ACA was so long and complicated. I think Republicans are not intelligent enough to come up with their own legislation, and I will believe that until they prove me wrong and come up with something. And at the rate they are going, I won’t live long enough to see that.

5 thoughts on “Republicans Don’t Do Health Care Reform

  1. Of course the R’s don’t have a health care plan.
    The D’s cribbed it and used it in ACA, hoping for some R support for old R ‘ideas.’

    They have no plan to pay for the parts they do like – but that’s NEVER stopped R’s.
    So I don’t see why they can’t cherry-pick?

    It’s not like they have any alternative plan, and how to pay for it, or for the parts of ACA they say they’ll want to keep.
    This isn’t news.

    -This is the party that created NCLB and didn’t pay for it.
    -This is the party that created an unpaid “fix” for Medicare, that still left seniors with gaping donut-holes for them to pay themselves.
    -This the party that started two needless wars and occupations, not only without paying for it, but by sending in troops, TROOPS!, into a war-zone with un-up-armoured vehicles, and inadequate helmets. TROOPS IN NEEDLESS, NON-PAID FOR WARS, WITH INFERIOR HELMETS!!!
    WTF!!!!!!!!!!

    So, of course they don’t have any health care plan, or any way to pay for one if they did.

    And, still, despite that record, not only are they not being laughed at, ridiculed, and mocked, they have a LEGITIMATE CHANCE OF WINNING – AGAIN!!!!

    Finally – feck Paul Ryan, the Eddie Munster-looking servant and cabana boy for multi-millionaires and billionaires.
    His accounting, as is he, is of no account.
    He’s a lying, greedy, ambitious, sociopathic, media-hound, supported by what must be people about as bright as a root vegetable, who are the voters in his district.

    We, the people, are feckin’ incredibly stoooooopid beyond measure.

  2. Hmmm … interesting, I can almost see a scenario where complete disaster from our POV could, in the end, work out very well for us. It wouldn’t really be worth the price, short term, but might in the very long term. To whit: assume repubicans keep the house and grab the senate and the presidency next election. They use the opportunity to repeal ACA in toto, but, wanting to avoid getting swept right back out next election, they pass a new law that, among a few other little bits and pieces, mandates insurance companies must not exclude people with preexisting conditions. Once this goes into effect, the entire medical industrial complex in the US promptly collapses. (and it would, oh yes it very much would … anybody with any understanding of how insurance actually works could tell you that, but that seems to exclude all republican lawmaker types). In the chaos that follows, democrats are swept back into power and at that point they would need to rebuild the entire system from the ground up, with all the formerly powerful interest groups either out of business or desperate for any change at all. An actual decent system arises from the ashes of the old.

    Mmmmm …. it’s a long shot, but I believe I will comfort myself with it when thoughts of disaster intrude….

    -Ian

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  4. ‘Gulag,
    I believe you should have a segment on “the daily show” with Jon Stewart.
    I was told by my hosts in the mountains of North Carolina last week that Obama has damaged America far greater than has al-Qaida.
    Yeah, I know; kinda like the sweet old southern lady in Kissimmee that told me how she hates “the niggers”.
    I realize we ‘Merkins don’t need no socialist yur-a peein’ medical care, but gol durn it,
    iffin yur a vetren, you get the VA fer life, even if the head surgeon is Dr. Hackett and he mis diagnosis that funny benigne mole as stage 4 melanoma and orders up aggressive radiation and chemo therapies.

    That Obama care looks pretty good when consider the bright spots.
    Sure it needs tweeking, but its a start- and a move in the right direction.

  5. You ht the nail on the head with you heading.

    Republicans don’t do health care reform.

    Republicans don’t do compromise – not any more.

    Republicans do discipline their dissidents.

    On the other hand:

    Democrates don’t do health care reform well.

    Democrats will compromise with themesleves and then compromise with the Devil.

    And Democrats don’t do party discipline.

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