Let’s Just Take a Breath re Healthcare

“Please stop blaming the House Freedom Caucus as a bunch of stuck-up ideological Pharisees. We need more in their ranks who will demand the best for the Constitution and the American people.”  — Arthur Schaper, political commentator and radio host

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., talks about the American Health Care Act

As we all know by now, Ryancare was pulled at the eleventh hour, because GOP leadership knew they didn’t have enough votes in the House to pass it. And that suits me just fine. Now, most Democrats & other liberals are gloating, laughing out one side of their collective mouth while scolding the Republicans out the other. Meanwhile, many Republicans are also rolling their eyes and shaking their heads in frustration, and probably resenting the 30+ holdouts in the Freedom Caucus for not voting on a bill that they knew was not the healthcare solution that the American public wants and needs. (Plus, some have argued that it would have been DOA at the Senate, anyway.)

Of course, I want to see the repeal and replacement of the disastrous Obamacare just as much as the next non-Leftie. Probably more than some. But, that doesn’t mean we should settle for “Obamacare Lite” — or, as some have put it, the “crap sandwich” that is the American Health Care Act (AHCA). And our representatives in Congress should not be pressured, coerced, or satisfied with anything of the sort, regardless of how much their “leadership” or the White House wanted a huge legislative ‘win’ a.s.a.p.

Frankly, I am rather disappointed with Trump and even more so with Paul Ryan et al. I think Sean Hannity is right. They should have included various groups — moderate, conservative, libertarian — from within Congress, the Executive, and outside think-tanks, in the discussions from the beginning — negotiating, building consensus, etc. But, Ryan and his Establishment buddies took a more exclusivist approach. They also had *plenty* of time to develop the plan and work this stuff out, at least since Nov. 9, 2016. But, that didn’t happen, so instead we got weeks of confusion and infighting and intense pressure at the end to support this AHCA bill that was developed largely “in secret”.

Let’s be clear. The supposed time crunch that was part of the applied pressure was basically arbitrary. Sure, it would have been nicely symbolic to pass Obamacare’s replacement on the 7th anniversary of Obamacare’s passage. And, yes, I realize that not having an Obamacare replacement in place makes it harder to move forward with budgets and tax reform. Healthcare constitutes 1/6th of the economy, after all. But, this is not something we can afford to get wrong by rushing a seriously flawed — and some might say “misrepresented” — piece of legislation into law. Ben Shapiro sums up what is wrong with Ryancare:

“Leave aside the public approval numbers, which are abysmal, far worse than they were for Obamacare: the bill maintains the Obamacare central regulatory regime, doesn’t lower cost dramatically, and provides the left a series of talking points that will crush Republicans in 2018. It’s not a significant free market reform, speculates about deficit reduction but doesn’t truly guarantee it (those block grants will increase or be replaced as political fallout hits Congress), and enshrines the Democratic article of faith that the government ought to provide health insurance to everyone via a regime of tax credits that amount to a new entitlement program. Ryan is pushing this bill because he thinks that’s all he can get through the Senate, and he’s negotiating with himself. That’s foolish. He should simply pass something that can pass the House, let McConnell do his damn job in the Senate, and then put together a workable bill.”

From the White House to the more establishment-minded pundits, we are being told that the rejection of Ryancare is a tragedy, that Obamacare will maintain its reign, that babies will die, the Democrats will regain power, and the poor, beleaguered Congress will have to waste precious time starting from scratch on this whole “Repeal & Replace” mandate within the Trump agenda. This is hogwash.

For one, Congress could easily pass a standalone bill defunding Planned Parenthood. They don’t have to wait to incorporate it into a health reform bill. They don’t have to “start from scratch” on that reform, either, which should take care of the other (overstated) concerns. Despite what many Dems have been claiming, conservatives and libertarians have been submitting alternative plans for consideration for years. Some better than others, to be sure. (See here, for example.) They’ve even voted on a few. In Dec. 2015, the Senate GOP actually got a “clean repeal” bill passed via budget reconciliation and the House passed it early in Jan. 2016, but it was vetoed by President Obama shortly thereafter. Many conservative members of Congress are pointing back to this bill for a re-start.

Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul introduced his Obamacare Replacement Act (S.222), which is very similar to the 2015/2016 legislation and looks very promising. “There are a variety of provisions that, in addition to fully repealing Obamacare, outline how the government can expand tax credits and health savings accounts, initiate individual and association pool reform, allow for interstate insurance, and even protect individuals with preexisting conditions. In other words, it does everything that Republicans want and more without expanding government power or spending any tax dollars.” Check out this article for a condensed outline of the most significant provisions.

As Conservative Review‘s Robert Eno points out,

“Members of the House Freedom Caucus have time and time again stated that this exact bill is what should be voted on by Congress. Contrary to the Journal and what Quin Hillyer wrote in the Washington Examiner, it isn’t the Freedom Caucus who is being disingenuous. It is Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the establishment wing of the Republican Party. These folks were perfectly fine with passing full repeal when they knew President Obama was not going to sign it. Now that they actually have a president that would sign that bill, they are balking at actually repealing the onerous aspects of the law — the regulations. The Freedom Caucus is only asking that the GOP once again pass what they already have.”

If Ryan et al. truly want to get rid of Obamacare and clear the way for a patient-centered, free market-driven healthcare insurance system, they need to stop belly-achin’ and reconsider Paul’s plan. At the very least, it’s an excellent place to start.

P.S.  Here’s a brief interview with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) on who’s to blame for the Ryancare failure:

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