Opponents of the law can hardly advocate going back to a system in which those who really need insurance can’t get it. What they can do, and surely will, is make lots of noise by pretending that any problem with anyone’s health insurance is due to the Affordable Care Act. Before Obamacare, millions of Americans had their policies canceled by the insurance companies every year. Millions more had their premiums raised, their coverage reduced or both. Now when these things happen, critics will try to blame the new law.
Increasingly, though, the GOP will sound foolish and irrelevant if it continues to put all of its eggs in the “repeal and replace” basket. The problem is that the Affordable Care Act is a set of free-market reforms based on ideas developed in conservative think tanks. Republicans who want to repeal Obamacare would have to replace it with something suspiciously similar.
If Republicans in Congress would work with the administration to make technical corrections to the Affordable Care Act, they could claim a victory of sorts: Obama gave you this mess and we cleaned it up. But after demonizing the program — and the president — for so long, the party has painted itself into a corner.
Note to the GOP: “We refuse, under any circumstances, to make the law work better for the citizens we represent” is perhaps not the ideal campaign slogan for the midterm election.