The United States Senate might as well get it over with and pass single-payer health care. Senate Republicans have made it clear that they do not support market-based reforms for health care, so what is the point of half-measured government intervention that by all measures will not work?
The last, best chance for market-oriented health care policy in the Senate health care bill is Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s Consumer Freedom Amendment. It’s a simple suggestion, really. Senator Cruz thinks health insurance companies should be allowed to offer a variety of options to consumers.
So what his amendment does, is permit states to permit insurance companies to sell insurance plans that are exempted from Obamacare regulations provided that these companies offer at least one plan that is fully compliant with the Obamacare regulations Republicans refuse to repeal.
This is a far cry from full repeal of Obamacare. Yet, the entire conservative movement has essentially compromised on Obamacare up to this point. Where before the goal was full repeal, now conservatives like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., are simply demanding this one amendment be included to secure their support.
Sen. Cruz's amendment would be a critical factor in creating competition, providing more choices, and ultimately bringing premiums down.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows)July 5, 2017
The Cruz amendment has the backing of conservative advocacy groups such as Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. It is demanded by Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah. Without this amendment, in all likeliness the GOP health care bill will fail in the House of Representatives, if it even escapes the Senate.
Yet Republicans do not want to vote for this small reform.
“I would say that if we voted on the Cruz proposal, it would be in the neighborhood of 37 to 15 against, 37 no votes and 15 yeses, and that’s probably generous,” a GOP aide “familiar with the Senate negotiations” told The Hill.
Health care policy experts claim that because older, sicker people would flock to the Obamacare-compliant plan, and younger and healthier people would go with the cheaper plans, costs would rise for the sick. Leaving all insurance plans under Obamacare’s regulations will raise costs for everyone, of course. Ignoring the reality that Obamacare regulations are driving health insurance costs up, Republicans are running scared from real repeal.
Another plausible idea is to repeal Obamacare first, and work out a replacement plan later. This is the approach advocated for by Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and President Trump. Yet a majority of Republicans refuse to do that as well.
Ultimately, because Republicans are unwilling to do what’s necessary to heal the health insurance market from the damage caused by Obamacare, insurance premiums will continue to rise, insurance plans that do not conform to Obamacare’s mandates will be cancelled, the market death spiral will continue to flush insurers out of the market place, and the Republican Party will take all the blame.
Democrats will eviscerate Republicans by claiming they “repealed” Obamacare, with health insurance markets getting worse as a result. The Dems will win the elections in 2018 and 2020, and the U.S. will have single-payer health care shortly thereafter.
So, if we’re not going to repeal Obamacare and institute market reforms, if Republicans insist on a (gargantuan) role for government in health care, why shouldn’t the GOP just get single payer over with now and save everyone the trouble of political posturing for the next several election cycles?