Rush on ObamaCare: The GOP’s “repeal and delay” plan is a disaster waiting to happen

posted at 8:01 pm on December 9, 2016 by Allahpundit

When the man’s right, he’s right, and he’s certainly right in this case. Read this if you missed it yesterday and you’ll see why. To return to the analogy in that post, the GOP is preparing to set a time bomb by repealing ObamaCare on a delayed schedule — without any assurance that they’ll be able to defuse the bomb before it goes off, and even without knowing exactly when it’ll go off. Odds of political casualties: High.

Rush’s plan is to set the bomb off now. Forget delayed repeal. Repeal the law immediately, even though there’s no Republican (or Democratic) plan waiting to replace the ObamaCare exchanges once they go up in smoke, and let the political chips fall where they may. The market will find a solution. That’s a … daringly libertarian-ish solution coming from a guy who’s spent time lately defending Trump’s Keynesian stimulus plans. But Trump will never go for it. He once famously said when asked about health care during the primaries, “You’re not going to let people die sitting in the middle of the street.” If the GOP nuked ObamaCare and dumped the rubble on the insurance industry to clean up, Democrats would spend every day of his presidency screaming you’re letting people die in the middle of the street. His political image is one of the paternal strongman who’s going to protect his people. “Your insurance is gone, fend for yourself” is not a position consonant with that image. In fact, given the risk of a ferocious political backlash from canceling the exchanges without a stopgap plan in place, I doubt even President Cruz would have entertained that possibility.

What’s much more likely to happen is a short-term — hopefully short-term — bailout of the insurance exchanges to keep insurers in the market while the GOP comes up with a replacement system. TrumpCare is going to start with a corporate giveaway:

The already fragile Obamacare markets — beset by soaring premiums and fleeing insurers — are likely to collapse unless Republicans take deliberate steps to stabilize them while they build consensus on a replacement plan, say health care experts. That could lead to a mess for the roughly 10 million Americans currently getting coverage through the government-run marketplaces — and backlash against the GOP.

“It’s basically a hostage situation,” said Jeff Goldsmith, a veteran health care consultant. “They’re going to have to negotiate something that is safe enough for these insurance companies to tell their boards, ‘We’re not going to get hung out to dry if we provide coverage to these people.’”

But the enticements most likely to keep insurers in the exchanges are the ones in Obamacare that Republicans spent years denouncing as industry “bailouts” — subsidies that were supposed to insulate plans from big losses

“The first question I think they’re trying to figure out is, do we actually own it for 2018?” said one health care lobbyist, speaking on background. “If premiums spike and plans exit, can we still blame it on Obama and get away with it? That’s one of the threshold questions that I don’t think they’ve answered.”

David Drucker reminds us that Obama got into political trouble after ObamaCare launched in 2013 for this very reason, because people had been led to believe they’d be able to keep their insurance plans and suddenly discovered that they couldn’t. Imagine that on a larger scale, with insurers abandoning the exchanges and yanking people’s plans after the repeal vote. Who gets blamed when the bomb goes off? Is it Obama, for creating an exchange system that was increasingly troubled and unsustainable, or is it Trump and the GOP, for delivering the coup de grace by voting for repeal and leaving average Americans scrambling to find coverage as insurers flee? Democrats will inevitably demand to know why Republicans didn’t wait to repeal O-Care until they had a replacement plan ready, so that consumers would be able to plan for the transition. What will the Republican response be? They could point to Schumer’s comments this week and say that Democrats were going to try to block any replacement the GOP might come up with, but Democrats will counter that that’s all the more reason why Republicans shouldn’t have voted for repeal in the first place. Until the GOP knows it has 60 votes to replace O-Care, it shouldn’t be voting to kill O-Care. What’s the answer to that charge? “We had to repeal it now or else we would have looked bad”?

Exit question: Is Rush right that immigration is “why Trump got elected”? On election day, when voters were asked what the most important issue facing the country is, 52 percent said the economy, 18 percent said terrorism, 13 percent said immigration. When asked what should be done with illegals who are already here, 70 percent said they should be offered legal status versus 25 percent who said they should be deported.


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