Republicans Must Keep Promise to Repeal Obamacare
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow and Policy Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was published April 6, 2017 by Townhall.
As the legendary Robert Novak once said, “God put the Republican Party on earth to cut taxes. If they don’t do that, they have no useful function.”
President Donald Trump has promised bold Reagan-like tax cuts to spur economic growth. However, with health care premiums skyrocketing and the devastating effect on businesses, America desperately needs to repeal the Obamacare tax.
For seven years, congressional Republicans on the campaign trail promised to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation. Now, after a historic election, what is the delay?
The “fake news” media spin is to blame this on the conservative Freedom Caucus, including my friend Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for standing on principal and demanding a full repeal of Obamacare. But the real blame belongs to so-called centrists and the D.C. establishment that has worked too closely with the insurance industry to defend many of the healthcare law’s worst mandates. And the same Obamacare-repeal bills that Congress repeatedly passed during the Obama-era are now ignored.
The Republican leadership has put President Trump in an uncomfortable situation, presenting him with potential bills that are far from ideal and do not have enough votes.
After one failed attempt, they are back to the drawing board. Healthcare policy affects real life-or-death situations every day, so it is important to get it right.
It is critical to stand firm on expanding options scrapping the heavy-handed “essential benefits” mandates, foster competition for insurance across state lines, and insist on defending religious liberty, especially when it comes to protecting unborn babies.
The Hyde Amendment prohibits Federal dollars from being spent on abortion. But in practice, Obamacare has done just that and by design. The problem arises when low and middle-income members of a state exchange are subsidized, then states require their exchanges to cover abortions. That means, in some states, people are paying a monthly hidden abortion surcharge. In California alone, approximately 1.2 million people received subsidies for plans which all require coverage for abortion-on-demand.
There is much speculation about what a healthcare compromise bill would be. One proposed solution of granting the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price the ability to grant waivers to states who which to opt-out of mandates is problematic. While Secretary Price is a conservative who opposes Obamacare, a future liberal Secretary of HHS could easily re-impose Obamacare’s regulations without Congress’ approval. In the meantime, many states would not apply for waivers, including those run by Democratic governors, along with Republican governors who accepted Medicaid expansion. Also, states that opt-out would not be supported financially in the same way as those that do not. Granting more power to HHS is not the way to ensure the Obamacare repeal is complete and permanent.
A new bill should ensure America’s most vulnerable populations are not denied coverage. Instead of prohibiting coverage for pre-existing conditions or making it cost prohibitive, the regulatory environment should encourage states and insurance companies to get creative with free-market solutions, such as high-risk pools. Not giving states flexibility in this area is bad policy and awful politics.
A market-oriented healthcare policy should shift the tax credits to individuals, instead of employers. Instead of the current one-size-fits-all approach, individuals should have the freedom to have a customized package of health coverage with many companies competing for business.
There is no time to repeat past mistakes or find ways to prop up an unconstitutional healthcare law. It is essential to get rid of it and support a market-driven insurance market that lowers premiums, respects religious liberty, and make the best coverage available to all Americans.
America can no longer afford the Obamacare tax. It is already on life-support, and it is time to pull the plug.