Late last night, Huffington Post broke news of a reported House compromise to “repeal” Obamacare. This morning, CNN is lending credence to the reporting, suggesting it is not “fake news.” That’s unfortunate, because if the details are as reported by HuffPost, the compromise deal frankly looks like a dog turd… a dog turd that does not, in fact, repeal Obamacare, and will entrench the notion that Republicans are a bunch of gutless wonders lacking the balls to do what they actually ran on for multiple electoral cycles in a row.
Over to HuffPost:
The deal, brokered between House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), would allow states to get waivers eliminating the so-called community rating provision ― the rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In order to obtain the waiver, states would have to participate in a federal high-risk pool or establish their own, and satisfy some other conditions.
In exchange for that conservative concession, the amendment would reinstate the Essential Health Benefits that were already taken out of the bill ― though, again, states could waive those provisions as well if they were able to show that doing so would lower premiums, increase the number of people insured, or “advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.”
There are other details, of course (for example, it seems that Medicaid cuts are still part of the package, and presumably, we’re still looking at repeal of the individual and employer mandates). But from these two paragraphs, we can ascertain that what this “compromise” mostly boils down to is Congress punting on actually, fully repealing Obamacare and passing off that responsibility—and all the potential political downside— to the states.
Obamacare *might* be repealed in your state, if your legislators and governor have the balls to do what the House GOP apparently does not. But realistically, it probably won’t. And the ultimate reason for that is because the House GOP wanted an easy vote they could brand as “repealing” Obamacare while in reality just kicking the can to some other politicos whose re-election is of no real concern to them.
Hence the “dog turd” characterization. The bill does not, in fact, repeal Obamacare; it punts decision-making for that to state-level decision-makers.
And hence the “wimpy” characterization. The bill exempts Members of Congress from taking a legitimately hard, but necessary, vote to get rid of something they’ve campaigned on repealing for several cycles in a row. It lets them take an easy vote for repeal-in-name-only, pass responsibility to some other poor suckers, claim they fulfilled a campaign promise and do a victory lap. Of course, the problem is, anyone paying attention who actually wanted Obamacare repealed will think this is incredibly weak, and Democrats will still run millions in attack ads blasting Republicans for repealing Obamacare even if they didn’t, meaning the political upside here is still questionable.
I understand why congressional Republicans want to do anything—literally, anything—to claim they’ve repealed Obamacare. Really, I do. And the reality is, this may be the only thing they can pass through the House, and there’s an argument that it’s better than nothing (though how this would fare in the Senate is a whole different matter).
Nonetheless, a dose of intellectual honesty would be good. It would be fairer to characterize this as Obamacare reform—not repeal and replacement—and, yes, as a wimpy dog turd of a compromise that should leave exactly no one feeling warm and fuzzy.