The Oba­macare re­peal fi­asco

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ed­i­to­rial ap­peared in USA To­day:

Tellingly, the lat­est and per­haps last Repub­li­can strat­egy on health care is a mea­sure that would re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act in two years with no re­place­ment in sight. So much for re­peal-and-re­place. Repub­li­cans did not have a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to the ACA when they staged their first re­peal vote seven years ago. They don’t now, and in all prob­a­bil­ity would not in two years even if the re­peal mea­sure were to pass.

They don’t have a plan be­cause mean­ing­ful re­form ideas are few and far be­tween and in­volve tough po­lit­i­cal choices. And they don’t be­cause the ACA, in many re­spects, grew out of Repub­li­can plans from the 1990s and early 2000s.

By try­ing to kill the law, first with the spe­cious ar­gu­ment that they had some­thing bet­ter and now with­out any such pre­tense, Repub­li­cans have left them­selves in a bind. They’ve moved the goal­posts so far that they have run out of play­ing field. Three GOP sen­a­tors, suf­fi­cient to kill the re­peal-only deal, came out against it. Sev­eral oth­ers, see­ing how dev­as­tat­ing it would be to their states, would stop it if nec­es­sary but would rather not buck their party un­less they have to.

The re­peal-only ap­proach has more prob­lems even than the re­peal-and-re­place pro­pos­als. Rather than strip­ping about 24 mil­lion peo­ple of their health care cov­er­age, it would do so for 32 mil­lion peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice. That’s one in 10 peo­ple in Amer­ica.

The ques­tion now is: What next? Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­sponded with a typ­i­cal Twit­ter-snit. “Let Oba­macare fail and then come to­gether and do a great health care plan.”

A more fruit­ful ap­proach came from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, one of the no votes on the re­peal-only plan. “Repub­li­cans have to ad­mit that some of the things in the ACA we ac­tu­ally liked,” she said, “and the Democrats have to ad­mit that some of the things they voted for in the ACA are bro­ken and need to be fixed.”

Re­peal-and-re­place is dead. Re­peal-only ap­pears dead. Now is the time for a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort on the best ap­proach, re­tain and re­pair.

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