Obamacare: ‘Repeal and delay’
Having spent the past six years promising to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, congressional Republicans have shifted to a new strategy, said Gary Legum in Salon.com. “Repeal and delay.” Their plan is to pretend to repeal much of Obamacare soon after Donald Trump is sworn in, using a legislative technique that circumvents the Senate Democrats’ filibuster power, but delay implementation of those changes for three years. Why? Because despite their “constant calls” for repeal, Republicans are discovering that “making major health-care policy is hard,” especially when you’re trying to re-engineer a program that has provided health coverage to 20 million Americans. That’s why Republicans “still have not put together a viable replacement plan.”
“Repeal and delay” may seem to be a smart political tactic for Republicans, said Philip Klein in the Washington Examiner, but it’s “doomed to fail.” Insurers are already leaving the state health-care exchanges in droves; if they know the law is on borrowed time, many more will pull out—sending Obamacare into a rapid death spiral. And while it’s true that Republicans would struggle to get an alternative system through the Senate now, it may be even harder after the 2018 midterms. The GOP is making a very cynical calculation, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. To limit political blowback, they don’t want to put their own health-care alternative into effect until after those midterms. In 2018, with the clock ticking on full repeal, they hope to force Democrats to vote for whatever they’ve come up with. If Democrats refuse, they’ll be accused of allowing a “humanitarian catastrophe”; if they give in, they’ll share some of the blame when people realize the Obamacare replacement either gives them “bare bones” coverage or jacks up their costs.
The GOP has only itself to blame for this dilemma, said Paul Waldman in TheWeek.com. Thanks to Republicans’ relentless propaganda campaign, the concept of Obamacare is widely disliked. But most of what the law does is extremely popular: expanding Medicaid, forcing insurers to cover those with pre-existing medical conditions, allowing young people to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. In a recent poll, for example, only 26 percent of voters favored full repeal. The reality is that it’s not possible to keep Obamacare’s popular features while eliminating the unpopular requirements that pay for them. When voters get angry “about what they’ve lost,” they’ll know whom to blame.
▪50% of voters say that Trump’s deal with Carrier to keep jobs in the U.S. gave them a more favorable view of the president-elect. That includes 87% of Republicans, 54% of independents, and 40% of Democrats.
▪26% of Americans favor a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, while 17% say it should be scaled back. But 30% want the law to be expanded, and another 19% want the law left as it is.