Politics & Policy

The Senate’s Flawed Health-Care Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after unveiling the new GOP health-care reform bill. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

The Senate Republican health-care bill would not repeal and replace Obamacare. The federal government would remain the chief regulator of health insurance. No state would be allowed to experiment with different models for protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Federal policy would continue to push people away from inexpensive catastrophic coverage.

The bill also seems unlikely to stabilize insurance markets, even though their current instability is one of the main Republican talking points for passing it. The legislation gets rid of the “individual mandate” — Obamacare’s fines for not buying insurance — but keeps the regulations that made the mandate necessary. The result is likely to be that healthy people leave the market and sick people face much higher premiums.

From a conservative perspective, the chief selling point of the bill is Medicaid reform. The legislation caps per-person payments to the states, giving the states a new incentive to run the program efficiently. But the reform is delayed until after the 2024 presidential election. Democrats will likely be in a position to vaporize it well before then.

The legislation cuts taxes, cuts spending, and allows states to engage in some modest deregulation of health-care markets. It appears to reduce the extent of federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion. And the main liberal criticism of the bill — that it would leave too many people uninsured — is misguided: We suspect that the Congressional Budget Office will find that most of the reduction in insurance rolls results from people’s choosing not to buy insurance when they’re not being threatened with fines.

The bill could be improved in any number of ways. The phase-in of Medicaid reform could be accelerated. The bill could be amended to allow for a modified version of the deregulatory waivers included in the House. The bill’s subsidies for people outside of Medicare, Medicaid, and the employer-based insurance system could simply be given to the states to distribute to that population without having to comply with Obamacare’s regulations.

If the bill is not amended in such fashion, it is likely to die, and it will be difficult to mourn the loss.

READ MORE:

So, You Want a Swiss Health-Care System?

The Senate’s ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017′ Finally Revealed

Embracing the Hard Realities of Health-Care Reform

The Editors — The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More