The simple truth of this entire health care debate is that the insurance regulations are the heart and soul of Obamacare. Without repeal of those elements, prices will never come down, the market will never be restored, and there will always be a need for massive subsidization at crushing prices until we get single payer. It is also the simple truth that Republicans never had any intention of repealing those elements because they never wanted to repeal them. Secretary of HHS, Tom Price, confirmed this reality on Sunday. As such, everything else is just a distraction.
When confronted with the truth about the House bill (the AHCA), varying establishment leaders, and the president give one of the following false statements or excuses depending on their audiences, each one contradicting the next:
While each one of these statements is independently false or reflects ignorance of policy, politics, and process, Republicans exude a pretzel of lies to cover up the fact that they long ago accepted the core of Obamacare. The real authentic excuse is number four — they don’t have the political will to get rid of what has actually destroyed the insurance market in America. Everything else just becomes more insolvent from there.
On Sunday, Tom Price told ABC’s “This Week” that full repeal of Obamacare, meaning the actual repeal of the part that matters, would “put vulnerable people at risk.”
“What that does is place vulnerable people at risk, and that’s not something that the president’s willing to do, it’s not something that he said he would do.”
Let’s return to the policy ignorance expressed by Price in a minute. For now, doesn’t this statement completely expose the “three-step process” as a fraud? To this day, Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is still promising members they will lower prices by getting rid of the coverage regulations later or by Tom Price doing it administratively. But Tom Price himself has already confirmed, as he essentially did during confirmation hearings, that he subscribes to the basic premise of Obamacare about pre-existing conditions and doesn’t WANT to repeal them. Hence, prices will never come down and the market will never be fixed.
This point is accentuated by the fact that the official House Ways and Means Committee summary of the bill refers to the crushing regulations as “vital patient protections.” I rest my case.
It’s also amazing watching Republicans avoid the straight and narrow path of full repeal like the plague to avoid one political problem, thereby creating a demonstrably worse problem for those very same people without benefiting the rest of the country. Mandated coverage for everyone with every condition at the same price as the general public sounded like a nice idea when it passed, but like every meretricious policy turned out to be the source of the problem. Thus, the lack of repeal will keep prices high for EVERYONE and will ensure that one or two insurers have a monopoly on the market.
Now that Republicans are repealing the individual mandate, healthy people will stop paying these insane premiums. Much like I demonstrated yesterday from the experience of the U.S. territories, the entire system will collapse and NOBODY — including those with pre-existing conditions and those getting generous subsidies — will have ANY insurance. The difference is it will be blamed on “repeal” and Republicans instead of Democrats and Obamacare. Moreover, by getting rid of the employer mandate without healing the market with repeal of the regulations, seven million people will be dumped from their employer-sponsored plans into this insolvent market.
Under the GOP plan, we will all be dumped onto Medicaid or another form of single-payer. There is no other option. Why? Because Republicans and President Trump have long ago accepted the premise that they “don’t want Obamacare except for the coverage regulations.” Which is like saying they don’t want Obamacare except for the part that makes it insolvent. Now, they will incur the worst policy outcome imaginable.
Knowing this background, if you believe Republicans will ever have the will or political capital to repeal the regulations AFTER passing this disaster, I have some insurance plans to sell you in eastern Tennessee.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.