Will Healthcare Reform Get the Job Done?

A new healthcare vote could be coming up for a House vote as early as next week and, while the content of this proposed legislation remains under wraps, it remains likely that this will not be legislation to please those who are to any degree right of center. Many conservatives campaigned, and were elected, on the promise of full repeal, which this will not accomplish.

Not even two weeks ago, legislation to address Obamacare was pulled but, at the urging of Vice President Mike Pence and the House Freedom Caucus, they are moving forward to revise the proposal. Some legislators, CNN reports, are concerned about the secretive nature of the negotiations. “I think we should learn something from the first round that you can’t just put some people together and then expect everyone else to go along,” said Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican from Pennsylvania. “I’m on the sidelines here waiting to find out what we’re (going).” While the White House looks to win over the Freedom Caucus, that group remains skeptical. “I am confident that we need to look at the text to make sure that this works,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows. “There have been no changes from “no” to “yes” because we haven’t seen the text so at this point there’s been no changes only a willingness and an openness to look at things.”

Instead of repealing legislation that was forced upon the American people, it appears that the proposed legislation would simply give states the power to decide on mandates. While states’ rights are key to freedom from federal control, the problem in this case is that states were not given the choice initially. Individual states have already been forced into Obamacare, and the burden needs to be lifted to return to square one and give legislators a choice to take to their constituents. As it is now, we have seen many legislators support unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and it is highly doubtful that they would repeal Obamacare mandates for their states.

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), suggested four ways that this could be addressed, including putting a stop to (or freeze on) all medicaid expansion enrollment. The FGA’s Josh Archambault writes that this “This is a politically popular solution with bipartisan support that would save taxpayers over the next decade. “ Archambault also suggests that “States should be given explicit authority to freeze enrollment in Medicaid expansion,” new states should be unable to use Obamacare to expand Medicaid, and that work requirements be put in place for those who are able to work.

Last month, Arkansas legislators voted to ask the Trump administration for a freeze on enrolling new medicaid enrollees. The bill, HB145 passed the Arkansas House Public Heath and Welfare Committee with a bipartisan vote of 13-6, including a vote in favor by Committe Chairman Rep Jeff Wardlaw, a former Democrat who voted for expansion in 2013, but has since changed parties- and priorities. The House vote of 55-32 was also bipartisan in nature as it becomes clear that this expansion is not fiscally sustainable.

Arkansas got it wrong when they decided to expand Medicaid through ObamaCare,” wrote the FGA’s Nic Horton, “Their specific approach, which thankfully did not spread to other states, has cost taxpayers nearly twice as much as traditional Medicaid expansion would have. But as Arkansas looks to tap the brakes on their out-of-control program and protect the truly needy, they are becoming a true model for the nation.

There are still several opportunities to improve the bill as it goes through the process,” Archambault wrote, “and it is imperative that Congress address Medicaid head-on to fulfill their promises of repeal and a fiscally responsible reform.”

If Republicans want to get legislation passed this before the upcoming break which will effect true reform and keep their voters happy, they might have quite a week ahead of them.