The new Republican Congress should move full speed ahead to repeal and replace Obamacare. It would be unwise to wait for the Supreme Court to perform this service for the American people.
With GOP command of Capitol Hill starting tomorrow, Republicans should use their hard-won mandate to obliterate Obama’s medical Godzilla. A record 58 percent of registered voters want to junk Obamacare, according to a December 10 Fox News survey. As well they should. Among other recently revealed shortcomings — according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits, 2014 Annual Survey (“Employee Cost Sharing” chapter) — the average deductible for individual plans has climbed from $826 in 2009 to $1,217 in 2014. This is an average annual increase of approximately 8.1 percent on Obama’s watch. Also, a Commonwealth Fund survey discovered that 40 percent of working-age adults have skipped medical treatments because they cost too much.
So much for Obama’s promise of “quality, affordable health care.”
Some nervous Republicans may prefer to let the Supreme Court neutralize Obamacare through King v. Burwell, which it will hear on March 4. This case will determine the legality of subsidies that Obamacare pays enrollees in 36 states that rely on federally established exchanges, rather than their own.
Who knows what SCOTUS might do? It could delight Obamacare fans, as happened in 2012. A painfully narrow decision could specify how many nurses can dance on the tip of a hypodermic needle but otherwise leave people perplexed. A decisive victory for Obamacare foes could transform this debate into three dozen distinct conversations, as governors and legislators in states without homegrown exchanges decide their next steps. If Washington Republicans expect to maintain a coherent message amid such chaos, they should start popping stronger antipsychotics.
At best, a wait-for-SCOTUS strategy could banish this vital issue to a judicial back burner until the Supremes adjourn in late June.
The Court will do what the Court will do. And so should Congress.
Thus, the House should adopt full and immediate repeal of Obamacare. The Senate should vote on such a measure, in a filibuster-proof procedure, such as budget reconciliation — which is precisely how Democrats enacted Obamacare. Some nervous Democrats who survived their party’s slaughter last November would support repeal. They have cover to do so now that Democrat senators Tom Harkin of Iowa, Charles Schumer of New York, and even Harry Reid of Nevada have denounced Obamacare as a costly, convoluted unforced error.
Obama would veto such a measure. Let him.
However, the GOP’s subsequent move should make Obama very nervous.
Congress next should adopt the Like Your Plan, Keep Your Plan Act of 2015. It simply should read: “The Affordable Care Act notwithstanding, all Americans who like their health-care plans may keep their health-care plans. Period.”
Many Democrats would find it hard to oppose a bill that lets satisfied Americans maintain their coverage.
Republicans should tell Obama: “On 37 different occasions, according to PolitiFact.com, you publicly promised the American people that if they liked their plans, they could keep their plans. We want to give you one final opportunity to keep this solemn pledge to the nation that elected and re-elected you to the White House.”
Obama could sign that bill and make Obamacare voluntary. Alternatively, he could veto it and confirm, once and for all, that he flat-out lied to the American people as he sold them a barge full of fraudulent goods.
That would be a tough, legacy-defining decision — and Obama would have to make it himself.
Republicans should keep tossing Obamacare reform measures on Obama’s desk, like confetti at a New Year’s Eve party. Let Obama decide to sign or veto separate bills to scrap the job-crushing, cure-killing Medical Device Tax; free individuals to buy plans with tax-free dollars; allow Americans to purchase insurance across state lines; permit patients to secure coverage through private associations and civic groups; revamp malpractice lawsuits; and authorize risk pools and other institutions to assist those with pre-existing conditions.
Although Democrats uniformly would reject a single, gigantic Obamacare overhaul, each of these discrete modifications almost certainly would attract Democrat votes. Thus, Republicans would generate bipartisan support for creative ideas to replace Obamacare, one piece at a time. Even Obama might support some of these changes. Republicans should invite his collaboration.
In terms of politics, this strategy would unify Republicans and divide Democrats. As Republican lawmakers embraced these individual initiatives unanimously, or very nearly so, Democrats would peel away from their caucus and vote with Republicans on one bill after another. While Republicans harmonized from the same hymnal, Democrats would howl at each other in their cloakrooms, as members of the donkey party, in varying numbers and combinations, crossed the aisles to sing with the elephants in their midst.
In terms of policy, Americans finally would see — in broad daylight — the features of Republican-crafted, market-driven, patient-centered, lower-cost, limited-government health-care reform. If Obama cooperates, magnificent. If he becomes President No, Americans soon will understand why they should elect a chief executive in 2016 who will sanction such major surgery.
And as America’s top jurists ponder King v. Burwell, Congress’s diligent efforts to slay this reviled beast will not go unnoticed.
— Deroy Murdock is a New York–based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.