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#ThanksMitch: Out: RINOcare; In: Schumercare

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has long said that if his party cannot scrounge up the votes necessary for the Senate’s Obamacare bailout bill, he’ll have to look to the other side of the aisle for support. And his Democrat counterpart called him on it Monday.

In letter to the senior senator from Kentucky, four leading Democrat senators, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said they “appreciate” McConnell’s statements about potentially having to work with Democrats to fix Obamacare.

The letter goes on to describe a short list of Democrat proposals to address Obamacare’s price hikes and collapsing coverage. Notably, the overall approach proposed by Schumer and company doesn’t look that different than McConnell’s own plan, when compared to full repeal.

One bill, introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., would allow people in counties with no insurance options to shop for the same insurance Congress uses. Another would create a permanent, half-billion dollar reinsurance program modeled after Medicare Part D. The letter mentions a proposal by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D, by “smoothing” the point at which Obamacare subsidies stop. Yet another would make cost-sharing subsidies paid to health insurers.

The current outlook is bleak for the GOP’s draft version of the bill — which is fast-approaching its leadership-imposed August deadline — with very little agreement on how to proceed.

What stauncher free-market advocates may notice about Schumer’s proposed measures is that they don’t look entirely different from the approach taken so far by Republican leadership: Keep the regulations, use the subsidies to stabilize the choked-off market, tinker around with entitlements, and create alternative coverage options necessitated by overregulation.

As Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz explained last month: "Obamacare comprises five core elements related to health insurance (putting aside the burdens on health care itself): actuarially insolvent regulations; open-ended, means-tested subsidies; Medicaid expansion; the employer and individual mandates; and the tax increases."

Both Senate proposals so far would keep the bulk of the basic framework in place while using even more taxpayer dollars to dilute the havoc that overregulation has caused so far, rather than allow the free market to fill the gaps, lower the cost, and innovate to expand coverage. (Relying on past case studies, the Mercatus Center does a commendable job illustrating what real free-market approaches to the industry would look like.)

It’s safe to say that any plan drafted with the intent of garnering Democrat votes would certainly keep more of this framework in place and cost more to implement. But neither proposed plan addresses the root causes of America’s high premiums and lack of access, which are built into Obamacare’s framework.

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