Can Republicans Win on Obamacare? Only If They Can Fix It

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

Last week Republican David Jolly beat Democrat Adelaide (Alex) Sink in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.  Mr. Jolly cast the election as a referendum on Obamacare while Ms. Sink, who supported Obamacare, chose to try to scare the bejezzus out of the voters with global warming alarmism.  In the aftermath of Mr. Jolly’s victory, Republican pundits are urging Republican candidates for congressional races to make repeal of Obamacare the central theme of their campaigns.

Should they do so they will once again snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory.

Let’s be honest.  Obamacare is a disaster.  It was built on one lie after another.  We now know:

  • You CANNOT keep your doctor even if you like your doctor.
  • You CANNOT keep your healthcare insurance even if you like your plan.
  • The average cost of healthcare insurance WILL NOT drop by $2500 per year rather it WILL increase by $3000 to $500 per year and that is just the first year.
  • You WILL BE forced to pay for abortions even if your religious convictions dictate opposition.
  • There WILL NOT be a “robust competitive market” for healthcare insurance because the federal government will dictate what all policies must contain.
  • You WILL BE REQUIRED to accept inflated costs for coverage that you neither want nor need including pregnancy and gynecological care for single men and prostate care for single women.
  • Small businesses WILL ELECT to eliminate healthcare insurance for employees because of the high costs mandated by Obamacare.  They also WILL reduce their number of employees to avoid the mandated coverage required by Obamacare.
  • Large businesses WILL ELECT to terminate healthcare coverage for part time employees to avoid the high costs mandated by Obamacare.  They will also increase the number of part time employees rather than full time to avoid the high costs mandated by Obamacare.
  • The cost of Obamacare will be over double what the Democrats originally projected based on assumptions that proved not to be true.  (Here the Congressional Budget Office is blameless because they operate on the principle of garbage in, garbage out, and virtually every thing they were told was a lie.)  The original projected cost of $940 Billion has risen to over $2 Trillion (New York Post, February 5, 2014).
  • Less than a third of the previously uninsured people prior to Obamacare will be insured under Obamacare negating the underlying rationale for adopting Obamacare.

The lies of President Obama and his chief allies, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), were papered over with overwhelming largesse from the taxpayers pockets to selected Democrat members of Congress to secure their support for a measure that was flawed from the start and went unread by every member of Congress who voted for it.

For all of these reasons alone Obamacare should be repealed and nobody would be more elated than me to see Mr. Obama’s singular achievement dismantled as the final indictment of America’s worst president.  But if Republicans choose to run singularly on the repeal of Obamacare, they will lose – for a very simple reason.

The Democrats have been successful in building an expectation that the government will “take care” of health insurance.  The Democrats, as usual, have failed to deliver on that expectation but the expectation remains and for Republicans to simply be “against” Obamacare will be viewed as turning one’s back on that expectation.  In the end, voters will conclude that even the “gawdawful” Obamacare is better than nothing.

To date, the Republicans have failed to coalesce around a solution – an alternative – to Obamacare.  There are a significant number of proposals floated by various Republican members of Congress and wannabe Republican presidential aspirants.  But there has not been a general agreement on a single plan – or even an amalgamation of plans.   Much of that can be attributed to petit jealousy or fear that one Republican might get a leg up on another (the Sen. John McCain approach to politics).  But Mr. McCain and his ilk should be banished to a corner and wiser heads should hammer together an alternative to Obamacare which Republican congressional candidates can support.

Such a proposal need not be reduced to bill form because nobody will read it anyhow.  However, there should be a series of principles that an alternative would embrace and which Republicans can promise to adopt within ninety days of being returned to the majority in both houses.  Those principles should be market based and include responsibilities commensurate with benefits.

  1. Every legal resident of the United States should be required to obtain and maintain health insurance, or accept the costs and consequence of not having insurance.  Those who fail or refuse to obtain health insurance will be denied health services unless they are able to pay cash for such services at the time they are incurred.  (Yes, people may die but then people die when they chose to drive drunk.)
  2. The burden is on the individual and not employers so that insurance travels with the individual rather than the employer.
  3. Each person who obtains health insurance will determine the extent of the coverage they wish.  This permits buyers a continuum of choices ranging from complete coverage to catastrophic coverage only.
  4. The cost of such individual healthcare will be funded by a full tax credit against federal income taxes owed.
  5. The amount of the tax credit cannot exceed the average cost of health insurance claimed as a tax credit by all taxpayers.  For those choosing to forego health insurance in favor of the “pay as you go” option, they can claim a tax credit for their actual cost of healthcare not to exceed the average cost of health insurance.
  6. In those instances where the claimed tax credit exceeds the income taxes paid, the taxpayer is entitled to a refund for the difference.  The “refund” can only be used to purchase insurance or pay for actually incurred medical costs.  By doing this, we eliminate the idea that low income people will be unable to afford individual health insurance since, having applied the tax credit and refund, there is no out of pocket cost to them for the insurance.
  7. The federal law mandating that hospitals must provide emergency room service to everyone regardless of the ability to pay must be repealed.
  8. The tax credit funding mechanism should be “sunsetted” after ten years to force Congress to examine the mechanism and make adjustments as required in order for the program to continue.

In the end we know that Obamacare as implemented is widely unpopular and Democrat support of it will be a detriment to their campaigns.  However, the concept of federal oversight of healthcare remains very much alive and popular and the Republicans had better find a solution.

Democrats are generally elected based on perceived inequities that they claim they will fix.  Republicans are generally elected to fix whatever the Democrats have screwed up in pursuit of such fixes.