So says Sally Fields as Mrs. Gump to her son Forrest and so it continues with the Republicans whose Senate majority rolled out their new and improved health care plan yesterday. A lot of punditry is out there for your reading pleasure today, but the pros and cons are deep in the weeds and the simple answer is that the horse is out of the barn. You can’t take things back from Americans that you’ve given them and no amount of finagling by the Republicans can change that.
Look, Obamacare is dying; it’s that simple. It was a last attempt to create at least the illusion of free market health care on the way to a single payer system. The dirty little secret is that if you pile a lot of benefits onto an already shaky system, like pre-existing medical conditions for previously uninsured people, and things like vision and dental care for minors, a myriad of preventative treatment and a comprehensive set of “essential coverage,” then you are absolutely going to increase costs to insurance companies. These companies have shareholders like you and me and they are obligated to show profits and superior returns.
When faced with the new mandatory coverage and the “take all comers’ approach that Obamacare requires, insurers have done the economically rational thing by either raising health care premiums or leaving the market. And that is the simple reason for the collapse of Obamacare.
And when I say that Obamacare is dying, I also mean that private primary health insurance as we used to know it is also dying. And I said so in a previous article I wrote about the disastrous House bill. Once an insurance product ceases to be economical, it really isn’t insurance anymore. When the government creates something like Obamacare and requires companies to cover something that isn’t economical AND THEN when premiums rise, subsidizing those premiums for the poor? It’s called an entitlement.
That’s where we are after 7 years of Obamacare. We want expensive health care for everyone. We really do. And that’s okay because it’s a choice we’ve made as a country.
If Obamacare is so horrific, how come it’s taken Republicans in the opposition seven years to address it and then, when they do propose a replacement for it in BOTH the House and Senate, it looks a lot like Obamacare light?
The House and Senate versions put forth by Republicans have the same basic provisions and tax benefits and subsidies as Obamacare but WITHOUT the mandatory purchasing provision which forces everyone to buy health insurance. By the way, that’s the only provision that makes it possible to pay for all of the expensive coverage which makes Obamacare economically viable at all.
Obamacare came about because lawmakers never did the things they needed to do with runaway health expense in the U.S. They could have done the smart thing and broken down the state monopolies on rates, coverage and forms and created a national pool that would have spread the risk. They could have taken healthcare away from employers and treated it like normal insurance for cars and homes and businesses. They could have made it harder to sue doctors and hospitals for malpractice, which would’ve reduced the number of tests that doctors prescribe to cover their backsides.
But they did none of those things and essentially all the Republicans are doing is re-arranging the Obamacare deck chairs. Worse than that, people feel that their entitlements are now being cut and other people will lose their health care coverage. They’re violating the politicians’ version of the Hippocratic Oath: “First, don’t take away the stuff you gave the people.”
Republicans simply missed their chance to reform health care and we skipped right ahead to Obamacare that was really just a Trojan horse for a national health care system. It was the last stop before the end of the line of private primary health care insurance.
That’s why once again I’m proposing a single payer health system for all Americans with basic coverage like Medicaid to be administered by insurance companies that bid for service contracts. We can also add private insurance that people can buy in the private market to supplement their government coverage.
If Republicans get out in front of this idea rather than dragging us back to what might have been done years ago, they would win and win and win as far as the eye can see. But it’s not looking good.
That’s all I got to say about that.
Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm
Photo Credit: Toby Jagmohan/Flickr.com