The GOP accidentally replaced Obamacare without repealing it

Congressional Republicans spent the better part of 2017 trying and failing to repeal and replace Obamacare. They have now largely abandoned the project to pursue other goals. Yet in a sense they have succeeded anyway — just not in the manner they expected.

Consider for a moment what a successor to the Affordable Care Act might have looked like if Republicans had somehow managed to both repeal and replace the law last year.

Although the hastily written replacement bills that made their way through Congress were often vague and uneven, they tended to push the law in predictable directions: more federalism and individual choice, fewer mandates and more state flexibility, cheaper plans with less comprehensive coverage. They aimed to reduce some subsidies associated with the law while also, in some cases, providing funds to help states shore up Obamacare’s unstable marketplaces. They pared back the law’s Medicaid expansion and consistently took aim at its individual mandate.