Why the Repeal of Obamacare Must Come Before Replace
President Obama met with Democrats this week in a last ditch effort to save his signature healthcare law. But instead of working on a strategy to help Republicans repeal and then replace Obamacare with reforms that would expand choice, improve care and lower costs, Democrats came up with a new PR strategy to blame Obamacare’s failings on Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a press conference after the meeting with a huge sign that read: “The Republican plan to cut Medicare, Medicaid & the ACA will – Make America Sick Again – from Affordable Care to Chaos.”
Schumer went on to say in an interview that Democrats would work with Republicans if they have “a plan that we (Democrats) can live with” but they are “not going to sit down in a room with them (Republicans) once they repeal and say let’s figure out a joint plan.” President Obama and Senator Schumer’s plan is clear: refuse to help Republicans with replacement reforms so Obamacare repeal never happens.
Unfortunately, some outside groups active in the healthcare industry seem to be falling for this trap. The American Medical Association (AMA), for example, recently sent a letter calling on congressional leaders to offer a replacement plan before repealing Obamacare. Some members of Congress are even falling for this trap calling on leadership to repeal and replace at the same time or possibly replace then repeal.
Senate Democrats are seizing on this opportunity to save Obamacare arguing that repeal will kick 20 million people off of their high quality and affordable insurance plans and cause chaos to envelope the entire healthcare marketplace!
The American people will not be fooled. The facts are clear:
- Obamacare has increased private health insurance coverage by 2.3 million. Medicaid expansion contained with Obamacare has covered another 11.8 million, but even this combined number of 14 million is a far cry from the 20 million Democrats falsely claim.
- The 11.8 million now covered under Medicaid expansion receive some of the worst quality healthcare available in the United States which comes at a cost of $715 billion in reduced payments for Medicare services and the bankrupting of federal and state budgets. What good is it to have coverage that provides poor health outcomes?
- Those individuals who receive insurance through the exchanges face high costs and few choices. Premiums will increase by 25 percent on average this year while health insurance companies continue dropping out of the exchanges leaving a third of all U.S. counties with only one option to buy insurance. What good is it to have insurance that you can’t afford to use?
- The repeal of Obamacare will include ample time for individuals on the exchanges to find alternative health insurance plans as the individual market recovers and a series of replacement reforms are enacted. As it stands, the Obamacare exchanges are beginning to collapse upon themselves and must be replaced before millions more lose coverage.
Congress will use any excuse to avoid doing the right thing. As former Senator Jim DeMint and current President of the Heritage Foundation strongly wrote:
“When I was in the Senate, they would use every excuse to avoid fighting for conservative priorities. “Wait until we get the House.” Done. “Wait until we get the Senate.” Done. “Wait until we get the White House.” Done and done. There are simply no alternatives left but to repeal Obamacare and win the fight (a shocking prospect for some!)”
Once Obamacare is fully repealed Republicans should start implementing the following five policies:
- Improve and expand health savings accounts so patients have direct control of their own health care dollars and can pay for all medical services including insurance.
- Remove barriers that stop patients from participating in direct primary care arrangements to increase patient choice.
- Allow patients to buy health insurance across state lines and enact state-led medical tort reform to increase competition.
- Equalize the tax treatment of health insurance to lower run-away health care spending and increase portability.
- Transition Medicaid and Medicare into a premium support model and get the federal government out of the practice of price fixing.
Reforming healthcare in these ways will lower cost, expand choice, and restore the doctor-patient relationship for millions of Americans, but none of this is possible unless Congress takes the right step first: fully repeal Obamacare.