Republicans have been waiting nearly seven long years for this moment. The Affordable Care Act was passed on March 23, 2010 and the battle to repeal this legislation has been raging ever since.
It was Democratic Senator Max Baucus who first called ObamaCare a “train wreck” and little did he realize how prescient these words were. Despite House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi’s reassurance that people would love it the more they got to know it, the law has never gained the support of a majority of Americans. It has been a key election issue in 2010, 2014, and 2016 and contributed greatly to the loss of Democratic control of both houses of Congress and the White House.
Republicans have not wasted the time waiting for this moment. Since January, 2011, the House has passed more than 50 bills that would repeal all or some of the ACA. Those bills have either died in the Senate while under the control of Senator Harry Reid, or been vetoed by President Obama when they reached the Oval Office.
Tevi Troy and Lanhee J. Chen, writing in The Wall Street Journal, say this time has been well spent. They say, “The accusation that Republicans have no plans for an appropriate replacement is false.” They list the following potential replacement plans:
- Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way”
- Senators Richard Burr and Orrin Hatch and Rep. Fred Upton
- Rep. Pete Sessions and Sen. Bill Cassidy
- Rep. Tom Price
- Senators John McCain and David Perdue
- Rep. Phil Roe and the Republican Study Committee
- Senator Ben Sasse
- “Improving Health and Health Care: An Agenda for Reform” – Troy and Chen
Clearly there is no shortage of plans available. The difficulty will be in agreeing which plan is best. The goals should be:
- Increasing the number of Americans covered and improving access to care
- Lowering the cost of coverage and stabilizing insurance markets
- Preserving coverage of pre-existing conditions
- Budget neutrality – controlling the rising cost of healthcare
- Providing flexibility to consumers to purchase only what they need
Now that Republicans have control of both houses of Congress and Donald Trump in the White House, they should be able to repeal and replace ObamaCare with a better plan. But they should not make the same mistake that Democrats made when they railroaded through their plan without bipartisan support. This contributed greatly to the dissatisfaction and ultimate failure of the Democratic plan.
Republicans should respect those features of ObamaCare that many people want to retain including coverage of pre-existing conditions and retaining coverage of children on their parents’ plan until age twenty-six. Donald Trump has already gone on record as supporting these features and there is no good reason why they can’t be incorporated into the Republican plan.
The biggest change needed is the elimination of government mandates that force people to purchase coverage they don’t want or need and needlessly drive up the cost of healthcare insurance. This will also solve the problem of infringement on people’s religious freedom by eliminating government mandates that violate that freedom. No more forcing nuns to buy contraceptives or abortifacients they oppose on religious grounds.
The replacement should provide more people with truly affordable coverage of their own choosing and really allow them to choose their own doctor and their own plan.
(Next post we’ll discuss a plan that can accomplish all of the above!)