Here’s an inconvenient question: Do Democrats have any new ideas to fix the objectively failing Obamacare health care reform?
Let me save you some time: The short answer is no.
I have seen no major Democratic legislation filed this Congress to “fix” Obamacare. Nothing to address rising costs, or the declining quality of coverage, or the increasing lack of choice in the market.
Socialists in the European tradition like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont want to go to a single-payer government-run health care system, which would end cost-control efforts, remove incentives in our system for specialized care and move with warp speed toward rationing of care, as can be seen in Britain.
Single-payer is not an answer to Obamacare’s shortcomings, though there is reason to believe that that hapless clown Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist and “architect” of Obamacare, may have intentionally devised the reforms so they would fail, and thus inevitably lead to a single-payer system. We may never know for sure.
But today’s burning question is: Why aren’t Democrats offering serious, thoughtful solutions to the failing system known as Obamacare?
Here are a few stabs at an answer. They learned their political lesson on Obamacare and want to give Republicans a chance to fail on their own. Or, they hope any failings of the Republican replacement will give them the momentum to flip control of Congress next year. If Democrats do control the Senate, expect impeachment hearings in January 2019 — their base will demand it.
Finally, Democrats may want to preserve President Obama’s legacy by not trying to fix the failure of one of his signature accomplishments.
But perhaps most important, Democrats calculate that once Obamacare fails, the only option they will offer is a single-payer system. Incredibly, many on the left believe that the Affordable Care Act has failed only because it is not liberal enough.
By now, you know the statistics of Obamacare’s failure by heart: Over 1,000 U.S. counties have just one health insurance company. Two-thirds of all doctors won’t see Medicaid patients. Obamacare state-based exchanges are failing across the country.
Insurers are pulling out of Obamacare, with more to come this year, as financial losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars are piling up.
House Republicans are attempting to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a partial repeal/replacement bill before the April recess. That would get the process started, enable Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to undertake significant regulatory steps and prepare the ground for the third and final phase of the reform — all while clearing the decks to pass tax reform later this year.
The prospects for the House Republican replacement bill are uncertain, especially in the Senate, but at least Republicans are offering something. Democrats, by contrast, are sitting on their hands, fiddling while health care burns. It’s truly disgraceful.
The Democrats are all politics, all the time.
Like most Americans, President Trump may not fully appreciate all the intricacies and complexities of the health care reform Rubik’s Cube, but he put his finger on one important political dynamic early in his presidency. He has argued repeatedly that, from a political standpoint, Republicans should just wait for Obamacare to collapse, giving Republicans greater leverage to enact their own proposal next year with the political wind at their back.
So far, Mr. Trump and House Republicans have courageously charged ahead, attempting to fell the Obamacare dragon before it wreaks even more havoc. It’s a dangerous mission, but it is at least one that they have the courage to attempt.
We cannot say the same for the Democratic Party.
• Matt Mackowiak is the president of Austin-based Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran, and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. He is the host of a national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” produced in partnership with The Washington Times. His podcast may be found at washingtontimes.com/mackonpolitics.
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