Republicans are working overtime to offer an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, but some conservative lawmakers are taking exception to the work of the majority. This is definitely throwing a monkey wrench in the ability of the party to repeal Obamacare in a timely fashion. Exactly what is going on, and how can we get conservatives on the same page to move America forward with a decent health care bill?
House Republicans recently passed a health care bill that has some admittedly bad policy. Although the rumors of leaving large amounts of people uninsured is demonstrably false, Senate Republicans were definitely on a better track for a bill that could pass both houses of Congress and make it to the president’s desk.
In both bills, the point of contention is how to provide health insurance for people who are too poor to afford it on their own. Conservatives have an overall policy, but there is some dissension on how to actually implement it.
Since the Reagan years, Republicans have been trying to limit the cost of Medicaid by changing it from an entitlement to a block grant. This simple adjustment would save the government hundreds of millions of dollars, and hand over control of health care to the states – who are much better equipped to handle the immediate needs of their constituents.
The health care bill that is coming from the House would accomplish this goal. It would also save the federal government money by turning back the expansion of Medicaid, and freeze enrollment in the current program until the year 2020. This new bill is known as the American Health Care Act.
However, the critique that detractors have of the AHCA that it offers no alternative for people who want to purchase insurance. American Enterprise Institute scholars James Capretta and Joseph Antos say that this would cause too many poor individuals and families to lose health care insurance.
Avik Roy, a well-respected health care expert and staunch conservative, has also written about the shortcomings of the American Health Care Act. Roy states that the bill actually loses the conservative goal of inspiring people to seek better employment. He adds that working age adults will actually lose benefits if they work harder, because they will earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to buy a quality insurance program on another market.
The House bill provides federal subsidies to purchase health care insurance on the basis of age. The way this is organized in the bill actually takes money away from older Americans who earn less, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. As a matter of fact, some older people might be on the hook to pay more in health care costs than they make in total income.
Finally, the House bill actually leaves some aspects of Obamacare intact, but they are the wrong things to leave in place. The Manhattan Institute’s Chris Pope wrote that conservatives should let go of the current effort to clean up Obamacare and start over completely. The Obamacare regulations that the House bill doesn’t touch also affect older Americans more than anyone, putting the burden of buying insurance on them.
Critics of the House bill come from some of the most established and well-vetted conservative think tanks in the country. The House bill does not involve nearly enough free market aspects, although it does cut spending and regulations on the industry. In short, conservatism must be embraced holistically in order to work. It cannot be taken piecemeal in order to compromise with liberals in Congress.
Our best chance for a good health care bill that actually protects older Americans is in Senate Republicans. People like Nevada Senator Dean Heller are leading the charge for a more holistic health care bill rewrite. Some of the most important tenants that Heller upholds is a phase out of Medicaid expansion that is a bit longer, giving more time to move older Americans over to the new system without falling through the cracks.
~ Liberty Planet