Well, nobody said ObamaCare repeal would be easy. But the main part of the problem is that not everyone agrees on the same principles.
First, we have two important Republicans saying that they reject a draft GOP plan to repeal ObamaCare, because it’s a GOP-approved Entitlement Lite package:
Two prominent House conservatives said Monday that they would vote against a draft of the Republican Obamacare repeal bill that was leaked last week, presenting a serious roadblock to the GOP’s increasingly complicated efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
. . . .
Meadows told CNN that what is unacceptable to him are the refundable tax credits included in the draft of the bill. Those tax credits, the North Carolina congressman said, are nothing short of an “entitlement program.”
“What is conservative about a new entitlement program and a new tax increase? And should that be the first thing that the President signs of significance that we sent to the new President?” Meadows said in an interview. “A new Republican president signs a new entitlement and a new tax increase as his first major piece of legislation? I don’t know how you support that — do you?”
So for these members of Congress, the problem is too much government involvement. Meanwhile our President, no fan of the free market himself, is planning to tackle the problem on his own. Hooray:
President Trump told governors at a meeting at the White House Monday that his administration will put forward its own ObamaCare replacement plan within a few weeks, according to two governors who attended the meeting.
. . . .
“The way I felt, I think Secretary [of Health and Human Services Tom] Price was going to be coming up with a plan,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) told a small group of reporters on Monday after returning from the White House meeting.
“I felt that way, didn’t you, Brian? It was pretty clear,” McAuliffe said, referring to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who was standing next to him.
Sandoval then said “yes” and indicated the message was that the administration plan would be ready “within a few weeks.”
McAuliffe said Price, who was in the meeting, mentioned the plan would be ready in three weeks. Trump replied, “No, I want it in two,” according to McAuliffe.
A man of action! Who needs a third week when you have two? Make sure you summarize it in a one-page memo, Secretary Price. No more than nine bullet points.
I’m guessing Trump is not going to be as skeptical of government involvement as the aforementioned Congressmen. I rather suspect Trump will bring to the table his own unique combination of lazy, ill-researched, hastily arrived-at judgments, lack of attention to detail, and fondness for big government. Who here thinks the plan Tom Price comes up with will be a free market plan? Who thinks it will contain hard choices that may not all be politically palatable? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Look. A free market approach is always the best approach to any problem, and so it is with health care. Utterly repealing ObamaCare root and branch is what must happen. Eliminate all subsidies, mandates, and requirements. Allow insurance companies to compete nationwide. Eliminate differential tax treatment of health care by employers.
People making their own choices is always best. Always.
There are valid issues with an immediate move to a more pure free market (which, by the way, we have not had in your lifetime, so don’t tell me the free market didn’t work, because we never tried it). Decades of government interference in health care have broken norms of charity care, and destroyed societal mechanisms for dealing with health care issues. There will have to be a transition period of three to four years for people who relied on the current system. You can’t remake this overnight.
What should be done is easy. What can be done politically — there’s the rub.
I’ve never seen an entitlement undone and I doubt we’ll see this one repealed. The word “entitlement” is especially accurate in American politics because people feel entitled. The public, in its infinite wisdom, wants to keep the parts of ObamaCare it likes (such as the ban on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions) and jettison the parts it doesn’t like (such as the mandate). There are snake-oil salesmen who will make this sound possible. Looking at you, Donald Trump!
As with any thorny political problem, it is important to keep in mind Thomas Sowell’s dictum: there are no solutions, only trade-offs. The free market is not a panacea. It is not an instant ticket to utopia. Humanity will remain imperfect, and the mechanisms that a market develops to address a situation will not always fix every single problem. All we know is that it will be better than anything government can devise.
Your choice is clear: trust the market, or trust government. We’ll see which road the Republican Party heads down. I think I know which it will choose, and the answer ain’t pretty.