February 27 2017
Quote of the Day II:
The current Republican plan for partial repeal of ObamaCare is replete with downsides that make political opportunists on the left salivate. But consider the recent statement by Aetna’s CEO that ObamaCare is entering a “death spiral” as higher premiums drive healthier customers from the marketplace. This permits a better approach.
--Heather R. Higgins in today's Wall Street Journal
In an important piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal, Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women's Voice (our sister organization), explains how Republicans can both give Americans a better health system and, at the same time, make Congress work again--if they are willing to go bold.
The GOP has developed a plan for partial repeal of ObamaCare through a process known as "reconciliation"--an arcane parliamentary maneuver to get past the Senate requirement of 60 votes to fully repeal ObamaCare. The logic, writes Higgins, is that voters are demanding action, and this provides something. But not enough:
But reconciliation is limited to matters of taxing and spending. It can’t be used to repeal most destructive aspects of ObamaCare—the regulations that stifle competition, cause premiums to skyrocket, make finding a doctor more difficult, and reduce plan options.
It could, however, eliminate the financial incentives for insurers to stay in the exchanges. That would accelerate ObamaCare’s collapse, but it would also mean the GOP, not ObamaCare’s fundamental flaws, would get blamed for every cancellation and uncovered patient.
The Democrats would block further actions necessary to develop a better system, and the media would attribute woes resulting from partial repeal to the GOP. But there is a better, bolder way:
Now that insurers are acknowledging the death spiral, there’s an opportunity for bolder action. The House could use regular order, not reconciliation, to pass a bill that not only fully repeals ObamaCare—returning control of the private market to the states—but simultaneously puts into effect at least the core components of reform while including grandfathering and other provisions to smooth the transition to lower-priced options on the free market.
Such a bill could easily pass the House, putting pressure on the Senate. Would Minority Leader Chuck Schumer allow proper consideration of much-needed health-care reform? And with all the evidence that ObamaCare has been a disaster and—untouched by Republicans—is quickly unraveling, would Democrats, 25 of whom are up for re-election next year, vote to defend the status quo?
There would be two Senate filibuster points—the first, to allow consideration; the second, to allow a vote. Thinking through what would happen, the American public and Trump administration would be well served by this exercise of transparent democracy.
Ideally the Democrats would eschew both filibusters, and Americans would be granted the health-care relief they need.
If Democrats blocked consideration of the bill, they would do President Trump a favor by showing the public the parliamentary shenanigans of the anti-deliberation filibuster—call it the “Senatorial Full Employment Through Avoiding Tough Votes” maneuver. Since the 1990s, legislation has routinely passed the House only to die without debate in the Senate. Helping the public understand this game, and exacting a political price for it, would be hugely helpful to passing the rest of Mr. Trump’s legislative agenda.
I've only hit the highlights. This is an important article and I urge you to read it in its entirety.