Now that a bipartisan coalition in the House has voted to repeal ObamaCare, an even larger bipartisan coalition has approved a Republican resolution directing four House committees to “replace” that ill-fated law. House Resolution 9 instructs the committees to “propos[e] changes to existing law” with the following goals:
- “Foster economic growth and private sector job creation by eliminating job-killing policies and regulations.”
- “Lower health care premiums through increased competition and choice.”
- “Preserve a patient’s ability to keep his or her health plan if he or she likes it.”
- “Provide people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health coverage.”
- “Reform the medical liability system to reduce unnecessary and wasteful health care spending.”
- “Increase the number of insured Americans.”
- “Protect the doctor-patient relationship.”
- “Provide the States greater flexibility to administer Medicaid programs.”
- “Expand incentives to encourage personal responsibility for health care coverage and costs.”
- “Prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and provide conscience protections for health care providers.”
- “Eliminate duplicative government programs and wasteful spending.”
- “Do not accelerate the insolvency of entitlement programs or increase the tax burden on Americans;” or
- “Enact a permanent fix to the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate formula used to determine physician payments under title XVIII of the Social Security Act to preserve health care for the nation’s seniors and to provide a stable environment for physicians.”
Three things about the Republicans’ “replace” effort:
First, America’s health care sector has historically been handicapped by one political party committed to a policy of (mostly) benign neglect, and another party committed to degrading that sector’s performance through government subsidies, mandates, price controls, and other exchange controls. Republicans now appear to be taking a different posture, and that’s encouraging — but not entirely. When Republicans set their minds to reforming health care, they are often as bad as Democrats. (See the Republican “alternatives” to ClintonCare. Or Medicare Part D. Or #4-#7 above.) Exactly how House Republicans plan to deliver on the above goals remains to be seen.
Second, no matter how House Republicans plan to deliver on the above goals, their proposals will be preferable to ObamaCare. Republicans quite literally could not do worse if they tried.
Third, no matter how good the Republicans’ proposals are, they will be utterly ineffective so long as ObamaCare remains on the books. ObamaCare’s influence is so pervasive and harmful that it makes real health care reform all but impossible.
So it’s a bit premature to be talking about replacing ObamaCare.