When will Republicans ever learn that being Democrat light is not a winning strategy? Over the Fourth of July congressional recess, more moderate to liberal “republican” U.S. Senators announced their opposition to the Senate GOP version of Obamacare “repeal.” Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota is the latest Republican defector, making the pathway to repeal, or even partial repeal, all the more perilous. Hoeven, like Susan Collins and Rob Portman before him, claimed that the Senate bill does not provide sufficient subsidies and Medicaid expansion funding to make healthcare affordable for lower income Americans. This short-sighted strategy plays right into the Democrat narrative that Republicans are trying to take away people’s access to healthcare, which is precisely what Obamacare actually does. Hoeven, Collins, Portman, and their ilk, are missing the point that subsidy spending is only necessary because of Obamacare’s mandates, and becomes unnecessary after Obamacare is repealed.
Obamacare, as passed in 2010, contains so many mandates on health insurance plans that it necessarily drove-up the cost of health insurance coverage. The government-mandated one-size-fits-all approach made plans so all-inclusive that elderly men had coverage for maternity leave and college-aged women had coverage for testicular cancer exams. Actuarial figures, used to calculate insurance costs, had to include many more likely payout variables, which drove premium costs to all-time highs. To try and soften the blow of the skyrocketing costs of these government-approved plans, Democrats massively expanded Medicaid spending to subsidize the cost increase. In short, Democrats broke the healthcare market and then ratcheted-up federal spending to act as a band-aide.
Obamacare has massively expanded federal spending on healthcare, while further reducing Americans’ access to quality care. In spite of President Obama’s hollow promise that people could keep their doctor and health care plan, millions have lost access to both. These facts are the reason why the American people have elected Republicans at every level; we have consistently voted to end the nightmare of Obamacare and restore free-market principles to America’s health system.
Republican Senators, like Hoeven, who complain that they cannot vote for the Republican plan because it does not leave Medicaid expansion funding in place are fundamentally abandoning their own campaign promises. Low-income Americans are not going to be denied access to healthcare because Republicans repeal Obamacare. In reality, repealing Obamacare would give all Americans greater access to the health care system, and lower premium costs across-the-board. Instead of caving to the Democrat narrative of Republicans depriving people of healthcare access, Senator Hoeven and his colleagues should point-out that the subsidy spending is only necessary because of artificially high prices under Obamacare. They should also rebut the false narrative that millions of people will be denied healthcare after Obamacare is repealed by pointing-out that access to health care and having government-approved health insurance are not the same thing, and that most of those who will become uninsured are younger, healthier Americans who will choose not to buy a Cadillac healthcare plan on their own.
Republicans have badly botched the attempted repeal of Obamacare, and are losing the confidence of their base. Their constant promise since 2010 has been “elect us and we will repeal Obamacare.” Well, here we are in 2017 with total Republican control of Washington, and Obamacare is still in place. For seven years, Republicans have talked about repeal, and now they are choking at the critical hour because they are trying to appease Democrat complaints.
Democrats have lost four consecutive congressional elections because of their support of Obamacare, and now Republican are dithering because they think repealing Obamacare will cost them control of Congress. The only thing that will cost them control of Congress is failing to keep their promise to repeal Obamacare. If they abandon their promise to the American people, the American people will abandon them come next November.