March 22, 2017

Shutting Off Spigot Won’t Clean Up ObamaCare Mess

There are ways around Senate rules, but the greater struggle is replacement.

As the House is set to vote Thursday on the GOP’s American Health Care Act, its replacement for ObamaCare, much attention has been focused on the options available for Senate Republicans to engage in repealing and replacing the law. Due to Senate reconciliation rules, full repeal of a law requires a 60-vote super majority, and with the Republicans majority sitting at 52 seats and Democrats united in their opposition to repeal, it may appear an impossible task. But that’s not entirely accurate.

Ironically, the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act mandate — in which John Roberts rewrote the law so as to make the mandate a tax — may also prove to be the Achilles heel which Republicans can exploit. Since the Supreme Court found all the regulations of the ACA to be an “intertwined,” “interlocking” system designed to function together and not separately, and that these regulations “would not work” without each other, if one aspect of the mechanism were to be compromised the whole thing would essentially shut down. And one of the critical elements to the functionality of ObamaCare is federal spending.

In other words, Republicans could vote to end funding of federal subsidies for health insurance, thereby essentially turning off the “power switch.” The vote being one on eliminating spending, and not repealing the law, would only require a simple majority to pass. It technically is not a repeal of ObamaCare, but a shutting down of the program, thus avoiding any concerns over Senate reconciliation rules.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with a majority of Senate Republicans, recognize that simply repealing ACA alone doesn’t solve the problem. ObamaCare created a Demo time bomb that isn’t diffused easily. The big problem is that a free market health care system hasn’t existed since 2009. ObamaCare effectively killed it. And a new fair and properly regulated health insurance market won’t simply pop into existence overnight. This is why Republicans have struggled so mightily in working toward a replacement plan.

The House Republicans’ AHCA wasn’t hastily cobbled together in the dark of the night. In reality, it reflects the work Republicans have been engaged in for years as they have fought to both repeal and replace ObamaCare. The aim of the legislation is to develop a federalist-based, free-market and patient-centered system as opposed to ObamaCare’s centralized, bureaucrat-oriented, authoritarian, free-market-killing, socialized program.

Will the GOP plan be perfect? By no means, but it certainly stops and works to reverse the ObamaCare-created death spiral into which America’s health care system is collapsing.


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