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Political Editors / Mar. 9, 2017

The Challenge of Health Care Reform

GOP commitment to individualism proves difficult when seeking to unite factions.

In the famous words of poet John Lydgate, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” This is the challenge Republicans face in their attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare. It’s akin to turning an aircraft carrier on a dime. The House Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA) is by no means a final solution, but it does include steps in the right direction.

One of the reasons repealing the “Affordable” Care Act is so challenging is the fundamental nature of the Republican Party. Historically, the GOP has generally championed the cause of protecting the rights of the individual and sought to limit government intrusion over and against the collectivist instincts inherent in the Democrat Party. In so doing, Republicans have lived with members who are much more free to deviate from party leadership — because conservatives are more individualist by nature. Democrats on the other hand espouse a much more authoritarian party structure where deviation from leadership is dealt with much more severely. Their goals favor communal rights over and against those of the individual.

When Democrats forced through ObamaCare, leadership made sure every Democrat was on board, even knowing that it would cost them dearly in the next election. The bigger goal of socializing health care was of greater importance, and they were willing to lose elections in order to get it done. As Fox News’ Charles Krauthammer observes, “You cannot retract an entitlement once it has been granted. That’s the genius of the Left. There is no country in the West that has developed national health insurance and then revoked it despite all the problems.”

As Republicans work to stave off impending health care disaster created by Barack Obama’s ACA, they will have to work together and accept varying degrees of compromise. They will not be able to make all the people happy all the time. As the House’s AHCA bill works its way through the Senate, expect to see even more changes. For example, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have said that any new bill must include a means of providing “stability for individuals currently enrolled in the [ACA] program.” Some may favor conservative concerns and others most certainly will not, but in order for progress to be made some compromise will be required. Conservatives aren’t likely to be happy with the final result, but that’s the ugly reality of the situation.

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