Government programs are not the answer. The way to maximize numbers of people covered by health insurance is to lower costs so more can afford it--not by taxing, subsidizing, and mandating your way to universal coverage.
GOP leadership ironically seeks to lower the bar on how far we go with Obamacare repeal now that we have a Republican in the White House.
GOP congressional leadership has been making the rounds on TV and elsewhere trying to push an Obamacare replacement bill that they call the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Conservatives across America call it RINO Care and have been appalled by how truly terrible this bill is. However, the RINOs believe they can sell us on RINO Care and convince us that we can’t believe our lying eyes about how bad their plan really is. They want you to believe that you’re wrong. I’m wrong. The Tea Party Patriots are wrong. Local Tea Party groups across this country are wrong. Heritage is wrong. AFP is wrong. Freedom Works is wrong. The Club for Growth is wrong. The Freedom Caucus is wrong. Senators Cruz, Paul, and Lee are wrong. Mark Levin is wrong. Instead, only the RINOs are right and only the RINOs can understand the problems and have the answer to Obamacare.
Most of us feel like if we hear giddy Paul Ryan repeat yet again, “I’m so excited about this plan,” we are going to throw up. But Speaker Ryan says he is going to Sell! Sell! Sell! Instead, he needs to Listen! Listen! Listen! because we are not buying the spin. It is a lie that we only have a binary choice: Obamacare or RINO Care. We choose neither. We choose a free-market fix, which means an insurance market free from Federal Government meddling. Ryan’s “My way or the highway” approach and his insistence on pushing big government solutions and central planning must be soundly rejected by conservatives everywhere.
Instead, we choose the 2015-2016 reconciliation bill, H.R. 3762,The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, as the minimum baseline for any repeal bill. This reconciliation bill already passed both chambers of Congress before, so there can be no excuses that they cannot pass it again now that it can be signed into law by a new president.
There is so much wrong with Ryan’s RINO Care that it is baffling that such a bill would even be proposed. Below are just a few of my top issues with the bill and the leadership that would propose such a bill.
1. Contrary to Ryan’s claims, his bill fails to keep the GOP promise to repeal Obamacare. Instead, it focuses on replacing Obamacare. But replacing Obamacare was never part of the GOP pledge to America. The pledge has always been to fully repeal – not replace – this bill. None of the legislation passed by Congress was to replace Obamacare. Each bill was to repeal it. Now they attempt to rewrite history and pretend that they ran on replacement all along, rather than repeal, and hope America has forgotten the truth. We cannot trust someone so disingenuous. Additionally, repeal must be separated from any replacement efforts, and any attempt to combine the two will sabotage repeal.
2. Even after full repeal has occurred, the Ryan replacement plan as proposed would be a total fiasco because his entire premise for replacement is fatally flawed. Ryan erroneously assumes that there should be a top-down federal strategy for managing health care. His plan just substitutes a big government GOP plan for a big government Democrat plan, and both interfere with the free market and increase taxes and premium costs. This flawed top-down philosophy is at the heart of the problem with the Ryan plan. They have replaced subsidies, regulations, and Medicaid expansion with other subsidies, regulations, and Medicaid expansion. As someone else recently said, “Under the old system of subsidies, the government gave you money to pay for your health insurance. But under the new system of tax credits, the government gives you money to pay for your health insurance.”
3. The GOP has used Obamacare as the foundation on which to build their replacement plan. You cannot build a solid program on a weak foundation. Rather than start from scratch with new open competition and free-market ideas, they kept the pillars of Obamacare in place, so they are not repealing it and really not even replacing it. They are just amending it and continuing it.
Like Obamacare, RINO Care focuses on numbers covered and numbers subsidized rather than cost. Cost should and must be the driver for any conservative solution.
- RINO Care continues the Slacker Mandate that drives up average premium cost because it allows folks to keep their “children” on their plans until the “child” is 26 years old, while someone else pays for it. The Slacker Mandate adds $1200 to every policy.
- Guaranteed issue, a definite pillar of Obamacare, has now become a pillar for RINO Care. This drives up costs for other insureds. Mandatory coverage of pre-existing conditions was not a requirement before Obamacare, and now the GOP wants to weave it in to the fabric of RINO Care.
- The idea of taxpayer-funded subsidies, which is just wealth redistribution, was taken from Obamacare and is now a part of RINO Care. They change how the subsidies work and call them advanceable, refundable tax credits, but they are still subsidies funded by taxpayers and in many cases will be hefty checks written to people who do not pay taxes that will be paid for by those who do. Like Obamacare, this government welfare program drives taxes and premium costs through the roof. Rather than implementing measures to lower costs, RINO Care, like Obamacare, uses these subsidies to mask the higher costs of premiums.
- RINO Care temporarily suspends the Cadillac tax and then brings it back indefinitely and apparently extends some other Obamacare taxes, rather than rip them out root and branch.
- RINO Care doubles down on funding Medicaid expansion and extends it until 2020, because apparently Obamacare Medicaid spending was not profligate enough for the GOP. This means that responsible states like Texas that passed on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion will be funding irresponsible states like California that chose to expand their Medicaid programs. States like California have little skin in the game and can enroll recipients in their program and shift their costs to states like Texas. This is all done through the magic of the federal wealth redistribution program now supported by GOP leadership. Medicaid expansion is another major driver of higher costs and tax increases.
Rino Care also promotes the Obamacare redefinition of Medicaid, as no longer a program for the most disabled and indigent. RINO Care has adopted the radical Obamacare notion that we should include a new category in the Medicaid program for able-bodied people of working age. This is unnecessarily costly and definitely not conservative. Every penny spent on this new group of able-bodied adults is a penny that can’t go to the traditional Medicaid program recipients. Adding this able-bodied group to the Medicaid roles also takes needed medical care away from those really in need because while the Medicaid roles exploded, the number of doctors taking Medicaid patients did not increase.
It is impossible to keep most of the Obamacare cost-increasing mandates and the huge taxpayer-funded subsidy scheme and not increase the costs for consumers and taxpayers.
4. RINO Care continues Obamacare’s misguided insurance regulations that drove up premiums for Americans buying coverage without government subsidies. They ignore the millions of people who do not get subsidies and are hurt by the higher premiums caused by government interference. Instead, they exclusively focus on protecting those who gained subsidized coverage through the law’s exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion.
5. Lies about reconciliation. GOP leadership is claiming that they can’t repeal parts of Obamacare in the Senate. This is false. They have lied that the unelected parliamentarian of the Senate will rule that repealing Obamacare regulations cannot be done under the reconciliation process. However this has not even been presented to the Parliamentarian. Additionally, even if she did rule that reconciliation could not be used, the presiding officer can overrule her recommendation and use it anyway because her recommendations do not bind the Senate and these Obamacare regulations passed through the reconciliation process definitely have an impact on the budget. So the Senate has the power to fully repeal Obamacare, if they just have the guts. It takes 60 Senators to overrule the presiding officer of the Senate on this matter, which would be a very high bar indeed.
6. Unprincipled GOP leadership is attacking conservatives who stand up against RINO Care. They are targeting conservatives again who are demanding full repeal. They are incredibly running attack ads against their own conservative Republicans, not Democrats, who are standing for principles and fiscal conservatism. The intent seems to not only be to force the Ryan plan through Congress but also to soften up conservatives to be primaried and replaced with candidates more compliant with big-government ideas espoused by the leadership. This is the same detestable practice we saw under Boehner. The fact that Ryan and his henchmen have adopted the same despicable behavior tells you everything you need to know about these disgusting Judas RINOs. Remember this when it is time to vote again.
In addition to the problems I have with what is in this bill, there are also problems with what is missing, such as tort reform and the free-market solution of selling health insurance across state lines. This would increase competition and would save hundreds of billions of dollars, nullifying any argument that this provision cannot be included in a repeal bill using reconciliation.
There has also been no effort to provide portability of policies by delinking health insurance coverage from employers. Through deregulation, Americans should be allowed to buy insurance through organizations of their choice. This will permit them to keep their plans if they change or lose their job.
In closing, Government action has increased the cost of premiums. Then the government offers subsidies to help defray these higher costs for premiums. Then the government charges higher taxes to fund their subsidies. The more the government tries to fix a problem, the worse the problem gets. Government programs are not the answer. The way to maximize numbers of people covered by health insurance is to lower costs so more can afford it–not by taxing, subsidizing, and mandating your way to universal coverage. And the way to lower costs is through deregulation and increased competition.
Allen Tharp is President of the San Antonio Tea Party.
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