Wednesday, March 22, 2017

GOP Will Own Obamacare Lite IF AHCA Passes

This type of 'pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it' mentality birthed Obamacare, and is the reason the conservative base increasingly despises their party.
Speaker Paul Ryan has scheduled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) for a vote in the full House on Thursday. Passing the bill through the House will be difficult, and through the Senate even more so.
The AHCA does not repeal Obamacare, which Congress voted to do only 14 months ago and Republicans spent the last seven years promising. The present bill, offered a mere two weeks ago and hustled through committees without time to fully consider its implications, is typical of the top-down, take-it-or-leave-it legislative blackmail characteristic of so many ill-considered attempts at lawmaking. In the unlikely event it is signed into law, it may well become a new “read-my-lips” broken pledge, an anchor around the president’s and Congress’s hold on power.
Donald Trump’s presidential nomination was as much a rebuke to the Republican Party as his general election was to the Washington establishment, yet Ryan and the legislative leadership of the party seem to have taken no notice.
They still believe the proper method of governing is to huddle in a back room with a handful of lobbyists and craft complex legislation in secret before springing it on their members in a hail of empty promises and naked threats. This type of “pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it” mentality birthed Obamacare, and almost passed comprehensive immigration reform. It is the reason the conservative base increasingly despises their party.
Ryan’s AHCA retains 10 of 12 major mandates Obamacare placed on insurance companies. The primary mandate is requiring that insurance companies not penalize people for pre-existing conditions. While that sounds like a lovely idea, it enables people to put off buying insurance until they get sick, thereby destroying the whole idea of insurance and driving prices through the roof. To help pay for the costs Obamacare created and the AHCA continues, the bill changes Obamacare subsidies into tax credits, which are available even if one doesn’t pay income taxes.
The Death Spiral Under New Management
The AHCA eliminates the individual mandate to buy insurance, but allows insurance companies to charge an extra 30 percent to people who allow coverage to lapse. This 30 percent is an implicit penalty for pre-existing conditions, but it is a pittance compared with what the coverage will actually cost, which will be made up by charging others more, causing them to drop their coverage.
At least requiring everyone to sign up, while constitutionally loathsome, made sense given the mandate to cover pre-existing conditions, but the AHCA doesn’t do that and thus is likely to accelerate the death spiral of healthy people dropping coverage. If this argument seems familiar, it is because the Republican Party has been making it for the past seven years, but now seems inexplicably eager to switch sides on a winning issue.
Republicans Already Passed Obamacare’s Repeal
On January 8, 2016, President Obama vetoed a repeal of Obamacare’s budgetary provisions passed under reconciliation. Ryan said at the time, “Next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law.” Presumably Ryan said “if” to mean “if I had a Republican president,” not “if I feel like holding another vote,” which apparently now he doesn’t.
If Republicans pass this bill and take ownership of Obamacare, they will be annihilated.

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