“Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” is not only a cliché; it seems to have been the Republican political strategy for the past few elections. Even more disturbingly, it seems like their strategy when dealing with the most epic governmental failures of Obamacare.
By now, one doesn’t have to explain how bad the Obamacare rollout has been. However, the human cost is still unknown, and everyone sees the train wreck coming. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has proposed a bill that lets people keep their current health plans, and today Republican Rep. Fred Upton—yes, the same brilliant mind that gave us the incandescent light bulb ban—is presenting his “Keep Your Health Plan Act” to the House. Speaker John Boehner has described this plan as part of the overall GOP strategy to fight Obamacare.
However, neither the Upton plan nor the Landrieu plan will actually fix the problem. Individual insurance is a heavily regulated, 50-state market, not a national market, and it is simply too late to immediately replace the five million canceled policies. No matter how intrusive the government response, the short-term damage is done.
If Republicans jump with both feet into trying to fix the unfixable, they’ll suddenly become co-owners of the individual market collapse. The unfolding bureaucratic nightmare will not only muddy the political waters. It will also cause immense confusion among insurers, with ripple effects across the entire market. And that can and will be blamed on the Republicans who are trying to fashion a “fix.”
But there’s a much larger issue at hand. Let’s not forget that this is a mere dry run before the collapse of the infinitely larger employer-based health insurance market next year, when all the same requirements that caused the individual market to tank will apply to our employer plans. Joint ownership of the individual market collapse will not help Republicans in advance of the looming employer mandate fiasco.
Republican solutions shouldn’t focus on managing the shipwreck and putting themselves into a position of co-responsibility for the disaster. While it may be courageous for the captain to go down with the ship, Republicans are not the captains; in fact they're not even low-ranking sailors on this sinking heap. They’re not even on the ship. And they should stay far, far away.
Because of Barack Obama, the following scenario is going to unfold in households across the country on January 2, 2014.
Someone who’s been dumped from his individual plan and either can’t afford or can’t obtain an ACA-approved alternative is going to get into a car accident, suffer a heart attack, or get diagnosed with cancer. He will immediately face a family financial crisis in addition to the heartbreaking health crisis and will find that he can’t get the quality of care he would have received had Obama not canceled his plan.
There will be thousands of similar situations unfolding across the country, and many people will see it coming. It is, and will continue to be, a tragic situation, and a severe injustice done against the American people by their government. The people know it’s coming, and they already know it’s because of Obamacare.
People hate Obamacare, and the Democrats own it. Republicans certainly shouldn’t violate their own principles and the Constitution in a misconceived effort to fix what is unfixable. This ship is sunk. Instead they must become the source of a true alternative.
The real, and most simple, fix for our health care system is to move to return it to the free market. It’s time to remove the government from the equation, to the extent we can, and as quickly as we can. This is an approach that is true to Republican values, and true to the ultimate American principle of self-governance. The American people can decide for themselves what insurance to buy, what it should cost, and what medical procedures should be covered. But as long as big government is in the way, distorting the market, this is impossible.
Republicans, it’s your move. Don’t listen to Fred “Dim Bulb” Upton, swimming towards the sinking ship. Please, trust the American people. There’s a well-used, proven, safe lifeboat waiting for you. It’s called the free market. It will take you out of these stormy waters and on to prosperous and victorious shores.