Failing to defund Obamacare isn’t the end of the world

Donlyn Turnbull | Host, "The Donlyn Show"

With 2014 looming on the horizon like a root canal, will the attempt to defund ObamaCare cost the GOP the mid-term elections?

Some critics of the defunding attempt believe the answer is a resounding yes.

Avik Roy, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and healthcare policy reform expert, contends the risky move could potentially backfire. In an interview with The Donlyn Show on Monday, Mr. Roy explained the Senate math doesn’t work in favor of the Republicans. Senate Dems control 54 votes and would need only six more “Republican defectors in order to have a filibuster proof majority.” Currently, more than six from the GOP are claiming they do not feel the risk of shutting down the Government would be beneficial.

Roy’s greater concern is “by adopting the strategy they end up dividing Republicans on something that is really tactical, rather than a matter of principle,” he said.

“Part of the problem with the way Ted Cruz and some of his colleagues have approached this, it’s like the argument from the pro-shutdown side has been that if you don’t agree with us you are a squish. You are surrendering. You are caving to the left,” even though, he stated, has been fighting ObamaCare daily over the course of past four years, referring to the criticism for not supporting the idea “puzzling.”

There are benefits to making an emotional pitch to voters, and the idea of defunding Obamacare is attractive with the law’s approval rating currently at an all-time low. If the answer is not defunding Obamacare and risking a government shutdown what are the options, aside from renouncing citizenship and moving to Belize?

Avik Roy described other ways to fight ObamaCare rather than shutting down the Government.

“The first is to argue for a one year delay,” he explained. “The law isn’t ready for prime-time. There are so many problems with the law in terms of taxpayer fraud, in terms of privacy protections, in terms of the kinds of things you could use to convince red-state democrats to say you know what, let’s have a delay for a year. Because if we don’t have a delay for a year then they are the ones, as red-state Democrats, with egg on their face, particularly going into an election year where a lot of these people are up for reelection.”

The case for defunding goes something like this: if Obamacare is not defunded before 2014 then big government has finally seized full control over Americans’ healthcare and it will be too late to turn back. But, as Roy reiterates, government control of healthcare is not a recent event.

The government takeover of healthcare began in 1965 when LBJ passed Medicare and Medicaid, Obamacare is simply an extension of those programs.

“I think a lot of people believe that we had this free market healthcare system and then Obamacare came along and it was a socialist takeover,” says Roy. “But it’s not like that at all. We’ve had a heavily run and heavily government-subsidized system for 50 years in this country. And Obamacare is just an incremental addition to that.”

He warns the focus cannot be on Obamacare alone because then we are ignoring other important issues like Medicare and Medicaid. There are ways to move the healthcare system in a more private direction, and Roy says ironically Obamacare could actually help the GOP accomplish that, if they are “sophisticated and smart about it.”

“The last time we enjoyed a true free market healthcare system was before 1965.” Roy clarifies, “half of the expansion of coverage that Obamacare achieves is through an expansion of Medicaid.” Massive changes in the direction of privatizing Medicaid could alleviate many of the problems with the Affordable Care Act.

He ended on an encouraging note, saying “The fight is not over. We’ve been so focused on fighting ObamaCare that we’ve given people the false impression that if Obamacare survives it’s the end of the world,” Roy said. “There is a path forward and we should not give up just because we lost the 2012 election and because Obamacare in all likelihood is going forward.”

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