Doing nothing is no longer an option. The recovery of healthcare.gov and the “ten million Obamacare enrollees” have seen to that. So Republicans now have no choice but to play their “replace” card, if they want to keep Democrats from running demagogically on “the Republican plan to take away your health care.” But in doing so, they have to avoid falling into a number of traps:
1) They have to neutralize any demagoguery about those “ten million” people with existing benefits. They should close the gate on any further sign-ups. And make clear there’ll be a transition—that existing “beneficiaries” will have alternatives, and/or a few years to make alternative arrangements as the Republican reforms kick in.
2) They can’t let “universal coverage” (or comparative “coverage gains”) be the measure of their seriousness. That path will lead them into a policy cul de sac where the only choices are onerous mandates and Medicaid expansions—i.e., Fauxbamacare. Instead, they have to focus on reducing costs and expanding individual freedom, consistent with the Constitution.
3) They can’t let their replacement agenda be simply “another symbolic repeal vote.” It has to be a series of actual, serious reforms.
4) They can’t let themselves slip into merely “fixing Obamacare.”