Obamacare lives on; thanks, GOP
With Congress and the White House in Republican control, the yearslong GOP promise to undo Obamacare appears to have gasped its last breath. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made that clear Monday night, after a total of four Republican senators said they could not support the latest rewrite.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a statement, after Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas joined Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky in bailing.
While Republicans were considering a repeal-only measure Tuesday — a strategy President Donald Trump supports — Senate observers say that plan is a nonstarter.
We cheer the white flag, and wish our own Sen. Cory Gardner had joined the holdouts in his party, as we urged him to do last month. Throughout this process, it has been clear that despite their years of complaining about Obamacare — and pledging from the campaign trail, as Trump did, to derail it — there never was a viable plan. Worse, Republicans proved themselves to be breathtakingly hypocritical in the process, blaming Democrats for rushing through the bill when in fact the vanquished party, on the whole, worked on the plan more transparently.
But we also share some of the majority leader’s regret. What McConnell was trying to push through wasn’t the right course for the millions of Americans who would have lost coverage and for states worried about how cuts to Medicaid were going to harm the least powerful of citizens. But McConnell and Company were right to try to do something to fix problems in President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, for affordable isn’t an appellation that quite fits.
As The Denver Post’s John Ingold recently reported, in Colorado insurers are seeking to raise health insurance premiums in the individual market by almost 27 percent next year. No doubt, Colorado insurance commissioner Marguerite Salazar is right to place some of the blame for the rising costs on “the dubious situation at the federal level” and the “Trump factor” that has given insurers the heebie-jeebies. But health care costs had been rising for years before McConnell’s push. Last year in our state, premiums for the individual market rose 20 percent.
Yes, the individual market is but 8 percent of the overall market, but that’s still hundreds of thousands of people. And costs are rising for employer-provided insurance and on the exchanges as well. Complicating the problem, insurers also are exiting some markets, leaving large swaths of communities with only one provider, a dynamic that also raises rates.
Perhaps now Republicans will seek out their colleagues on the other side of the aisle to address Obamacare’s faults more responsibly.
Some Republicans — including Congressman Mike Coffman of Aurora — already are arguing for ways to work with their Democratic peers in the reform effort.
While it’s hard to imagine a bipartisan coming together, it’s what’s needed. We urge the Grand Old Party to give it a try.