No one ever said that dealing with the health care debacle would be easy, and we’re getting our first taste of those difficulties right now with the unpopular reception of the American Health Care Act.
Despite its backing by President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, many in the Republican party are claiming that the proposed U.S. Congress bill is no better than the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature (and fatally flawed) “achievement.”
Conservatives are opposed to the AHCA primarily because it doesn’t, in itself, address a number of problems associated with Obamacare. It also doesn’t propose a number of cost-cutting solutions that Republicans have been promising for some time. Some of the critics’ gripes are certainly legitimate, but some stem from a failure (willful in some cases) to acknowledge a few important factors.
There are Republican constraints that legislators in the House are forced to work with. National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a good piece last week illustrating the limitations tied to the Senate’s budget reconciliation process, the Democratic filibuster, and even the ideological balancing-act required to successfully navigate through both chambers of congress. These hurdles keep a number of Obamacare provisions from being immediately addressed, making the AHCA the first phase of what Speaker Ryan has been referring to as a “three-phase plan.” The larger cost-cutting measures are slated to come later in the plan.
Sound complicated? It is, and it was always going to be…even if the slogan “repeal and replace” was rather easy for Republicans to campaign on over the past few years. The explanation for the complexities: Obamacare went on to become the law of the land, and its rules and regulations are now deeply embedded in our health care system. And even though the law is failing, the role it currently plays cannot be ignored.
Unfortunately, there is no magic reset button. I wish there were.
As Greg Gutfeld recently said on Fox News’s The Five, a government program is like having “bubblegum in your hair. You can’t get it out once it’s in there.”
I’ll amend that sentiment a bit. You can get it out, but it’s a pain in the ass, and the result is not going to look the way you were hoping. This is especially true with government programs that a large number of people have become dependent on, as is the case here.
So, rather than heckling the mother who’s using a jar of peanut butter and a pair of scissors to try and detach a sticky wad from her son’s curls, maybe the Right should work on being a bit more understanding…and pragmatic.
Is the ACHA the best possible answer for replacing Obamacare, even as the first phase in a three-phase solution? It may not be. Some of the conservative opposition to it is quite reasonable. And if the different factions within the Republican Party can shape this or another bill into something better that can still get passed, that’s great. But that’s the trick: getting something passed. If that component didn’t factor in, the ACHA would look much more like a lot of conservatives want it to.
The reality is that Obama and the Democratic party left the country with a huge mess that they’re not inclined to help fix. Unfortunately, that’s politics. Beyond them, there’s a conspiratorial wing of the Right (including people in the conservative media) that doesn’t want any health care reform, believing it’s an “establishment” plan to politically damage Trump for a GOP primary challenge in 2020. And if you don’t think that group has influence, you haven’t been paying attention over the past couple of years.
People are suffering under Obamacare. I personally know families that are paying more for their monthly health insurance than they are on their home mortgage. They can’t afford to sit through more political theater and political non-starters in Washington.
Getting the ball rolling on reform legislation is crucial. Getting something passed that ultimately lowers costs is crucial.
Let’s try to keep those two things in mind as we move forward.