Two years ago, President Barack Obama signed his landmark health-care legislation into law. We’re still learning what’s in it, and approaching an election that will result in our digging deeper into a bureaucratic takeover of our most intimate, life-and-death decisions. Or we’ll repeal it. Is there life after Obamacare?
There is no question that Obamacare can be undone. The American people want it undone. The only question is whether the Republican party, and the eventual Republican nominee whoever that may be, will show the necessary leadership and resolve to bring about the desired result. If Republicans want to repeal Obamacare as badly as President Obama wanted to pass it, Obamacare will be repealed.
But that leadership must begin in the campaign. Too many Republicans have been duped into thinking the 2010 election somehow wasn’t about Obamacare — as if they could otherwise have gained 63 House seats (more than either party had gained since before Obama was born) when exit polling showed that more voters blamed President Bush for the economy than President Obama. Too many Republicans likewise buy into the narrative that the coming election will be about the economy. Obama would like that, as would the press corps. But Republicans should make it clear that, while the economy is a crucial issue in this election, the central issue is Obamacare.
If Obama gets sent packing in an election that’s largely focused on Obamacare, Democrats will lose their stomach for the fight. There will be plenty of votes to repeal (the vast majority of) Obamacare via reconciliation — the means the Democrats used to pass it — if not via the normal legislative process. But if Republicans allow Obama and the press corps to focus the election on the economy, they are less likely to win — and less likely to bring about repeal even if they do.
Close your eyes and imagine the Supremes have overturned all of Obamacare. Let that sink in. Now snap out of it, sunshine. We can’t count on that. We must exploit Obamacare’s every vulnerability.
The biggest is its health-insurance exchanges. Even Maine refuses to create one. We must convince every state to follow suit. HHS hasn’t the money to create them if states balk. Even if it did, it has no legal authority to offer tax credits and subsidies in federal exchanges. Either way, Obamacare collapses.
Once Obamacare dies, we must be careful not to resurrect it. Specifically . . .
Don’t re-create health-insurance tax credits. They carry the same baggage as Obamacare’s and expose you to charges of hypocrisy. Expanding health savings accounts is the better option.
Don’t throw federal dollars at high-risk pools. Let states decide how to subsidize people with preexisting conditions. Congress should roll such funds into Paul Ryan’s Medicaid block grants.