Let's Not Miss the Health Care Forest for the Trees
"The alternative is what you have, [and] what you have is nothing."
This week could mark a historic turning point for health care reform. Or maybe not. The outcome is contingent on how House conservatives decide to cast their votes on the American Health Care Act. For his part, President Donald Trump is rallying the troops. In Louisville, Trump declared, “This is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of ObamaCare.” He reminded Americans that “the alternative is what you have, [and] what you have is nothing.” Emphasizing the magnitude of this undertaking, he reportedly also told the bill’s fiercest opponents, “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don’t get this done.”
Earlier this week, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said support was meager at best: “Currently there are not enough votes to pass the legislation.” Which is why House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump are working so tirelessly to persuade naysayers like Sen. Rand Paul, whom Trump even offered an olive branch, saying, “I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed — in some form.” Certainly it’s a critical issue, and the reasons for apprehension are understandable. As Hot Air blogger Allahpundit argues, “Given how hugely unpopular the bill is across the political spectrum, it may also be true that House Republicans will lose seats if the bill does pass.” Fair point.
We should note that the bill likely has the necessary support, at least in the House, and that what’s left before Thursday’s vote is backroom dealing over who gets what in return for their vote.
But the harsh reality is laid out in the words of a Wall Street Journal editorial: “If conservatives fumble this repeal and replace moment, they won’t get another chance. And they’ll have squandered their best opening in a generation to control the size and scope of the federal Leviathan.” Columnist Cal Thomas adds, “Failure to at least take the first step in replacing a deeply flawed, government-mandated insurance program will leave a stain on the Republican Party that even the strongest and purest ‘detergent’ will not be able to remove.” Though it can be extremely difficult, sometimes you have to take victories where you can find them, as underwhelming as they may be. That’s the nature of compromise. Let’s tackle what we can now and move forward with other things later. Otherwise, as Trump articulated, we’re left with nothing.