This week, a bill – the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Act – will go to President Barack Obama’s desk. This bill would repeal his signature domestic policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Of course the president will veto this bill, and he and his supporters will say this is no more than Republican political theatre.
But they’re wrong; it’s not just a stunt. Rather, this bill achieves three important things: It shows that Republicans are dedicated to fighting a bad policy with demonstrably bad results. It confirms that Republicans are listening to the will of the people on this policy. And Republicans are reminding the public that they can be trusted to repeal Obamacare with a new Republican president.
Image source: AP/Don Ryan
First, Obamacare is a bad law that is simply not working. While Obamacare supporters obsessively point to just one metric – the number of people with health insurance – the fact is that the law fails on every other metric. Contrary to its title, the law is neither “affordable” nor does it “protect patients.”
When Kaiser recently studied the approximately 10.5 million eligible Americans who remain uninsured, they found that more than 7 million of them would be better off paying the penalty than paying the exorbitant price of an Obamacare plan. The only consumers happy with Obamacare’s premium prices, it seems, are those who are heavily subsidized, as some 80 percent of current enrollees are.
All of these subsidies come with enormous public costs, which is a drag on our economy and hurts us all. That’s why repealing Obamacare – according to the Congressional Budget Office score of this most recent bill – would decrease our deficit by $516 billion over 10 years.
On top of high premiums, enrolled customers face high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, leading many – even those with insurance – to face medical bankruptcy. The deductibles in Obamacare’s lowest-cost plans are more than 40 percent higher than deductibles for low-cost plans in the pre-Obamacare market.
For all these costs, Obamacare plans offer limited benefits. While the laundry list of covered services is long, the actual services available to enrollees depend on the hospitals and providers who will accept their coverage. The networks available to Obamacare customers are often narrow and inadequate.
The law may have increased the number of people with health insurance on paper, but it has not resulted in more affordable health insurance plans or more real protections for patients. It’s a bad law, and repealing it is the right thing to do.
Second, repealing Obamacare is an attempt to do the will of the people. The American people do not like Obamacare. A December 2015 CBS/New York Times poll shows that 52 percent of people oppose the law, while only 40 percent support it. In the nearly six years that Obamacare has been law, it has rarely enjoyed net positive support, according to Kaiser’s monthly tracking poll.
Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, sending an Obamacare repeal bill to President Obama’s desk illustrates that there is only one thing – one person – in the way of actually repealing the law. Despite the Democratic talking point, Obamacare is not definitely “here to stay,” but its continued existence depends on the person holding the veto pen.
Congress is ready, willing, and able to put a repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk. All we need is a different president.
The next step on Congress’ agenda – as it should be – is passing a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. The next health reform law should focus on succeeding where Obamacare failed: By using market competition (not subsidies) to truly lower prices, we can attract more consumers to buy insurance that offers coverage and genuine access to health care.
This most recent bill – the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Act – should give hope to the millions of Americans frustrated by Obamacare, and it should cause us all to pay more attention to what’s next for health reform. This isn’t just meaningless political theatre; it’s a very important dress rehearsal for 2017.
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.