‘We’re essentially [repealing Obamacare] anyway. It’s been decimated by us…’
(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Who knew that Republicans have greatly improved the nation’s health-policy outlook?
Few voters heard this message from Republican candidates this year, but three separate, carefully-argued opinion columns in the campaign’s closing days made the case that Republicans in the past two years have significantly driven down health-care costs while expanding both the amount of choices for care and (despite leftist warnings) the number of people covered by health insurance.
First came conservative analyst Deroy Murdock in an Oct. 28 syndicated column.
“The total number of Americans with health insurance rose from 292.3 million in 2016 to 294.6 million in 2017, the Census Bureau reports,” Murdock wrote.
The columnist noted that Republican lawmakers have ended the “individual mandate” forcing people to buy insurance they don’t want; eliminated the Independent Payment Advisory Board that was designed to ration (in other words, limit) health-care choices in the name of cost control; passed “Right to Try” legislation allowing people with apparently terminal illnesses to try experimental drugs that might save them; allowed small employers to band together to secure better insurance options for their workers; allowed individuals to buy temporary health insurance plans formerly disallowed by Obamacare; and greatly expanded, for consumers’ benefit, transparency on prices and services.
And those are only the top-line items on Murdock’s longer list of Republican health-policy improvements.
On Nov. 4, the Wall Street Journal chimed in with a house editorial making a number of the same points, calling the GOP actions “an impressive suite of reforms that allow consumers more freedom and personal choice.” Not only that, but the Journal destroyed Democrats’ arguments that the reforms would lead to nothing but “junk insurance.” For example, they wrote approvingly, “Look at what the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is offering: nine plan choices; dental, vision and life coverage available; pre-existing conditions covered; and more, with premium rates locked in for two years.”
On Sunday in the New York Post, Republic strategist Mary Vought, whose daughter has cystic fibrosis, wrote a column praising the Trump administration for speeding up Food and Drug Administration procedures on approving generic medicines for market, thus expanding low-cost access to treatments that can vastly improve, or save, countless lives. Not only that, she wrote, but “a recent Council of Economic Advisers report found that the slowdown in prescription-drug price growth over the past two years saved consumers $26 billion through July.”
Like Murdock and the Journal (in parts of their columns not mentioned above), Vought also welcomed Trump administration moves to grant waivers to states to allow more innovative use of Medicaid dollars. These aren’t merely backdoor ways to let states cut costs. For example, these waivers will help fix a problem caused by Obamacare:
“Under the Affordable Care Act, states get 90 cents from Washington for every dollar they spend covering able-bodied adults, but only 50 to 75 cents for covering individuals with disabilities. That has led states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare to treat people with disabilities as lower priorities. No rational person would publicly advertise a system that forces hundreds of thousands of individuals with disabilities to wait before receiving needed care. But ObamaCare did just that.”
Finally, while none of these three columns focused on it, one other advantage of Republican reforms is now apparent: After multiple years of Obamacare premium prices rising annually by double-digit amounts, this fall’s prices—with Republican policies finally in place—actually are falling.
Although Trump has tended to veer away from the toxic health care debate during the midterm election cycle (both Bill Clinton and Obama were punished severely in their first midterms–with losses of 52 and 63 House seats, respectively—after attempting to run on it) he also has been ready to highlight the ways he has been able to fix the system, even though Congress fell short of repeal.
“We’re essentially doing the same thing anyway,” he said recently at a rally in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s been decimated by us.”
Even without repealing all of Obamacare, GOP priorities are working, according to these articles. They ask us to imagine what good could happen if the rest of Obama’s edifice could be replaced.