Obamacare: Repeal Now, Replace Later
David Catron
by

No competent doctor treating a gangrenous leg would allow the mortification to advance while agonizing over what brand of prosthetic should replace the necrotic limb after amputation. Yet the Democrats, the legacy media, and even some pusillanimous conservatives are urging congressional Republicans to do something equally irresponsible with the disease known as Obamacare. They warn that repealing the law without immediately replacing it will cause millions to lose their health coverage, create chaos in the insurance markets, reduce access to care, and increase costs. All of this will allegedly cause voters to punish the GOP in 2018. This is BS.

In fact, the opposite is true. The voters know that Obamacare itself has caused millions to lose their health coverage, created chaos in the individual insurance market, and reduced access to care. Moreover, they are all too well aware of the fact that the “Affordable Care Act” has rendered their own care less affordable by dramatically increasing their out-of-pocket medical expenses. By electing a GOP President, they have given the party’s congressional leadership one last chance to affect a cure for Obamacare. If the Republicans allow the infection to spread by delaying repeal until they pass a replacement, the voters will give them the boot next year.

The voters want the pain to stop, and they want it to stop now. They will be more patient regarding replacement. According to a new Gallup poll, “More Americans now mention healthcare costs (27%) than mention access (20%) when asked to name the most urgent health problem facing the U.S.” This confirms the findings of other surveys, including a Rasmussen poll conducted before the election that produced the following result: “Most voters still say lowering costs is more important than universal coverage.” These are the voters who have now handed both houses of Congress and the White House to the party whose candidates pledged to repeal Obamacare.

And, the recent spate of “it’s working” propaganda notwithstanding, their view of the law hasn’t changed. Gallup conducted a post-election survey on this specific point and reports that public disapproval of the law remains as high as ever: “Going forward, the vast majority [80%] of Americans want to see the law changed.” In early November, Rasmussen got similar results: “Voters overwhelmingly favor changes in Obamacare, with more voters than ever calling for its outright repeal.” It’s difficult to imagine these voters suddenly reversing their opinions on the failed “reform” law and wreaking a terrible revenge on the GOP for repealing it.

Yet Obamacare pimps like Paul Krugman insist that just such a backlash is coming, based on the preposterous claim that the Republicans “don’t have a replacement, and never will.” Krugman has failed to notice that the man President-elect Trump has chosen to run HHS has long since introduced a plan that was endorsed by the American Hospital Association in a December letter to congressional leaders: “ACA repeal and replace legislation sponsored by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary-nominee Tom Price is an example of providing a ‘clean slate,’ which would protect hospitals from destabilizing cuts that would jeopardize access.”

Rather than providing such useful information to his readers, however, Krugman peddles the debunked claim that repeal will cost countless millions access to care. He believes the voters are too dumb to know better, as he demonstrates in the following passage: “How will Republicans try to contain the political fallout if they go ahead with repeal, and tens of millions lose access to health care? No doubt they’ll try to distract the public… with shiny objects of various kinds.” Krugman, like most of his fellow travelers, has yet to figure out that it is just this smug contempt for the voters that has reduced the political left to its weakest position in nearly a century.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are finally strong enough to amputate Obamacare before it kills the health care system. After his confirmation, Tom Price will work with House and Senate leaders to produce a genuine reform program that will evolve into a bill they can put on President Trump’s desk for signature. The only real question involves timing. The worst provisions of Obamacare should be repealed — immediately — via the budget reconciliation process. That will convince the voters they mean business. After that is accomplished, they should wait until late 2017 to introduce legislation that will remove the remaining vestiges of the failed “reform” law.

This strategy would be risky according to some observers, but they overestimate the incentives for Democrat resistance. If a solid replacement bill is introduced during the run up to the 2018 midterms, intransigence will be a very difficult position to sustain for the ten Democrat Senators who will be running for re-election in states Trump won in November. Despite the bluster we have been hearing from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, some vulnerable Senators have already signaled that they will cooperate with the Republicans. In the end, these Democrats will decline to fall on their swords to save a law that has already decimated their party.

Republican leaders at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue should ignore the desperate scare tactics of the Democrats and the legacy media. They should also disregard the bad advice they are receiving from fainthearted conservatives. There is more at stake here than Obamacare. The voters have given the GOP a chance to rescue the republic from closet despots like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their bureaucratic accomplices. Failure to take immediate advantage of that opportunity would not only be politically suicidal, it would be a gross dereliction of duty.

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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