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Why the End is Near for Obamacare

Posted: September 20, 2016 at 4:46 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Mark Uncapher

Liberals have been fond of saying since its passage that Obamacare will never be repealed. The constitutional requirement that veto overrides require a two-thirds vote has made an outright repeal all but impossible for a majority Republican Congress, as long as there has been a Democratic President.

And yet in its current form, Obamacare is doomed. The next President and Congress will inevitably be faced with making substantial changes.  Whether the replacement is “repeal” or Obamacare “reform” depends on the composition of the next Congress and the control of the White House.
Obamacare’s death spiral is unfolding, much as predicted by the original law’s critics.  Premiums are skyrocketing, as too few healthy individuals enroll to offset the cost of the sick.  Rising premiums then discourage still more healthy individuals from participating.  Major private health insurance carriers have announced large price increases and have pulled out of many markets.

And it’s not just the largest insurers that are pulling back.

Of the 23 non-profit “Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans” or co-ops, 17 have failed and the remaining 5 are on the brink of collapse.  Prospects for continuation are further reduced by the 19 states that have avoided participating in Obamacare’s fiscally risky Medicaid expansion.

To use the jargon of the left, Obamacare is just not sustainable.

To their credit, when Republicans have had the opportunity, we have had considerable success in applying free market principles to enhance healthcare.  These include such successful reforms such as: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and consumer-directed health care, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and quality reporting and paying for value.

House Republicans and Speaker Ryan’s “A Better Way” initiative provides a blueprint for replacing Obamacare.  Their proposal is built on five principles:

  1. Repeal Obamacare. The law that Democrats forced through Congress in 2010 was filled with special interest handouts, budget gimmicks, and tax increases. Nonpartisan analysts warned that the law’s new mandates and regulations would lead to higher premiums and reduced access to care.
  2. Provide all Americans with more choices, lower costs, and greater flexibility. The nation’s health care system is too bureaucratic and too expensive. It didn’t work before Obamacare, and it most certainly does not work now. Insurance companies should be competing against each other to offer the most affordable, highest quality options for consumers. While Obamacare favors a one-size-fits all approach, Republicans believe choice, portability, innovation, and transparency are essential elements of successful reform, and for too long they have been absent in health care.
  3. Protect our nation’s most vulnerable. Patients with pre-existing conditions, loved ones struggling with complex medical needs, and other vulnerable Americans should have access to high-quality and affordable coverage options. Obamacare’s solution was to force millions of people onto Medicaid, a broken insurance program that has historically failed lower-income families. Republicans reject this approach. Instead, we believe states and individuals should have better tools, resources, and flexibility to find solutions that fit their unique needs.
  4. Spur innovation in health care. From new procedures to advanced, life-saving devices and therapies, the U.S. has always been at the forefront of medical discoveries. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for our policies. Today, it costs $2 billion and takes 14 years to get a new drug through the byzantine clearance process at the Food and Drug Administration.
  5. Protect and preserve Medicare. Today, more than 50 million seniors and individuals with disabilities rely on Medicare for access to health care. And millions more are counting on Medicare to provide health security when they reach retirement.  Obamacare raided more than $800 billion from the Medicare program and beneficiaries it serves and used the funds to finance the law’s open-ended expansion of entitlements. Republicans fundamentally reject this idea. Medicare must be protected for today’s seniors, and it must be strengthened for future generations. We can do this without undermining Medicare’s promise to current beneficiaries by slowly phasing in improvements that will provide future generations with greater choices.

There is no doubt that change is coming to Obamacare. Whether it represents a sound replacement or something worse, depends on the outcome of the November 8th election.