The Corner

Beshear’s Self-Undermining Argument

In his Tuesday-night response to President Trump’s speech, former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear spent a large chunk of his time talking about health care:

Does the Affordable Care Act need some repairs?

Sure it does.

But so far, every Republican idea to “replace” the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary.

Mr. President, folks here in Kentucky expect you to keep your word. Because this isn’t a game — it’s life and death for people.

These ideas promise “access” to care but deny the importance of making care affordable and effective. They would charge families more for fewer benefits and put the insurance companies back in control.

Behind these ideas is the belief that folks at the lower end of the economic ladder just don’t deserve health care — that it’s somehow their fault that their employer doesn’t offer insurance or that they can’t afford to buy expensive health plans.

But just who are these 22 million Americans, including 500,000 people right here in Kentucky, who now have health care that didn’t have it before?

Look, they’re not aliens from some distant planet.

They’re our friends and our neighbors.

We sit in the bleachers with them on Friday night. We worship in the pews with them on Sunday morning.

They’re farmers, restaurant workers, part-time teachers, nurses’ aides, construction workers and entrepreneurs working at high-tech start-ups.

And before the Affordable Care Act, they woke up every morning and went to work, just hoping and praying they wouldn’t get sick. Because they knew that they were just one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy.

You know, in 2010, this country made a commitment: that every American deserved health care they could afford and rely on.

And we Democrats are going to do everything in our power to keep President Trump and the Republican Congress from reneging on that commitment. (emphasis added)

If the goal is to keep people from being in danger of bankruptcy because of health bills, it’s not necessary to make sure they have comprehensive health insurance. Catastrophic health insurance would achieve that goal. We could get rid of Obamacare and just give people without access to Medicare, Medicaid, or employer-provided coverage a tax credit that would enable them to buy relatively cheap catastrophic coverage.

Beshear shouldn’t be telling Republicans to keep Obamacare. He should be telling them to move ahead with something like HHS Secretary Tom Price’s plan, and telling Democrats to cooperate.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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