As expected, the healthcare reform legislation unveiled by GOP senators Thursday falls far short of the promised repeal Republican lawmakers have used as a campaign crutch since the early days of the previous administration. The “new” bill would keep in place a massive bailout fund for insurance providers and Obamacare’s taxes, while still managing to increase the estimated cost of health coverage moving ahead.
Still, some pundits are calling the most recent iteration of the bill a partial win for conservatives. That’s because it would retain provisions from the earlier bill that would begin cutting the Obama administration’s Medicaid expansion funding beginning in 2014, which has served as a major point of contention for Democrats as well as Republicans from more moderate districts (especially those whose state budgets are currently padded by the federal largess).
In addition to the Medicaid cuts, conservatives also got a small victory in the inclusion of an amendment proposed by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to make it easier for insurance companies to offer more affordable basic plans for customers with fewer health troubles. Democrats and their moderate GOP counterparts don’t like the idea because they believe lower premiums for healthier people will vastly increase the cost of medical insurance for those who need it the most. That is partially true. What isn’t, however, is any notion that the current offerings work. Keeping the current regulatory structure dictating what types of plans can be sold in the marketplace intact will simply mean that droves of healthy Americans will continue to forgo insurance altogether and deal with penalties rather than help foot the bill to subsidize sicker patients’ healthcare.
Of course, as always in Washington, the latest health legislation is little more than a temporary slight of hand.
Currently, there’s almost no chance the GOP leadership can get the required votes to pass the new bill because it leaves in steep Medicaid cuts. Moderate Republicans like Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, West Virginia ‘s Shelly Capito, and Ohio’s Rob Portman, among others from states leaning on Medicaid money, have made clear they’ll have a hard time supporting legislation that will bring big tension to their districts. It’s $772 billion worth of tension over 10 years, to be exact. And the leadership can forget any help from Democrats on the current legislative proposal.
That means we can all expect more revisions. And now that the GOP’s leaders threw in some symbolic wins for conservatives, they’ll state a need to give something to GOP moderates and Democrats to guarantee passage. The longer they can drag the process out, the closer Obamacare as it stands now gets to full collapse. For GOP leaders looking to sell out Republican voters, the longer this process takes the better. The coming crisis of healthcare collapse will create an emergency– and GOP leaders will cave, likely completely, leaving us with Obamacare-but-bigger.
It’s what the GOP establishment does. Remember the government shutdown? Did the GOP achieve any real spending cuts? Remember all of the talk about securing the border? Did the GOP deliver?
“We can’t just do nothing and be obstructionists,” establishment Republican leaders are fond of reminding disappointed constituents.
But they really could– and the nation would be better off. That’s what conservative government does: As little as possible beyond ensuring that the nation is protected from foreign invaders and Americans have access to a just system to settle disputes and allegations.
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