Republican Senators' plan should be called "Obamacare Forever"

Sens. Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins released a plan this week that they’re trying to sell as a replacement for Obamacare. It’s named the “Patient Freedom Act,” but a more apt description would be the “Obamacare Forever Act.”

Far from representing a departure from Obamacare’s approach to healthcare policy, the legislation would effectively enshrine it into place.

The Cassidy-Collins bill has been pitched as a bipartisan compromise that would give states the option of sticking with Obamacare or trying out a free market alternative. In practice, though, the bill wouldn’t provide a legitimate choice.

One reason it can’t be seen as a legitimate choice is that the law keeps Obamacare’s taxes and most of its spending in place (particularly, 95 percent of its subsidies) and keeps the federal exchange infrastructure intact. That means that even if lawmakers in one state choose not continue participating in Obamacare, their residents will still have to be paying to support the program. It also means that for the sake of inertia if nothing else, many states will stay within Obamacare.