Driving Home The Point: Obamacare Cannot Stay

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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“Make America Sick Again” – or not. Advocates for Obamacare took to social media on January 5th to voice their continued, ardent support of the controversial signature health care reform pushed by President Barack Obama. “Make America Sick Again” was a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook, raising awareness to the verbal efforts of newly placed U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to decry President-elect Trump and Congressional Republicans fast-tracking a total and/or partial repeal of Obamacare.

To make matters murky, the new and fresh 115th Congress has taken to Capitol Hill in a new era: unified government for the first time in over a decade. Due to this new era enveloping the country’s leaders and their constituents, the time of trial is upon our newly elected and re-elected officials to address the elephant in the room… And that elephant is finding a solution to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that won’t inflate our national debt, allow Republicans to keep to election promises, to ensure that the health insurance industry is not crippled even more, and to have the American consumers and their interests at the forefront.

The simple solution is to just completely remove the health reform law from the books. Nevertheless, simplicity is absent when you enter Washington D.C. and legislative estrangement, in both parties.

Just like making any major purchase or entering into any “high-stakes” agreement, many people take a step back and examine the overall benefits and implications of a certain action. What will happen? Who or how will this change things? Are there alternatives? This mindset has been adopted by many Republicans when being faced with the most trying public policy question of the year, barely a week into 2017.

Using the most prominent and recent example of this in the political sphere, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s hesitation on an outright repeal of Obamacare is noteworthy. Being the fiscal hawk and pragmatic legislator he is, Senator Paul has publicly opposed current efforts for an Obamacare repeal due to the overall financial implications it can have on the nation’s gargantuan debt that exceeded $19 trillion at this time, one year ago.

Senator Paul’s observations yielded concern surrounding the fact that there is a projected cost of removal that is a near $10 trillion added to the national debt over the next ten years. Kentucky’s junior senator took to the concerns to the web and published a brief essay on the matter.

“Don’t misunderstand me,” Senator Paul opined in his essay, which was published by Rare. “We should repeal Obamacare, but partial repeal will only accelerate the current chaos and may eventually lead to calls for a taxpayer bailout of insurance companies.”

Other hesitation is, obviously, seen by the Obamacare proponents which feature scores of repeal doomsayers that only focus on the castigated extremes of removing the law and its provisions from the books.

Regardless, the ending outcome has yet to be seen; however, the end may be near for the Obamacare era.

In addition, the political and legislative component to the great paradigm of a repeal, we need to consider the effects that just even the talk of a total or partial repeal are having outlying effects on the non-governmental stakeholders. Modern Healthcare reported, that after talks of repeal began and conversations ensuring a “smooth” transition were had, hospital stocks rose. Major hospital holding corporations were considered “big winners” in the stock market on the January 4th trading day, according to analysts and other media reports covering the jumps.

Forcing the modest, yet noteworthy rallies in hospital operators like HCA Holdings, Community Health Systems Inc., and Tenet Healthcare were compelled to jump 3 to 10 percent were the words of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

“Today, our message is very simple,” Pence said in a press conference. “We’re going to be in the promise-keeping business. … We’re going to keep our promise to the American people — we’re going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with solutions that lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government.”

From here, the line needs to be drawn. What is the right method of action? My view is on par with Senator Rand Paul and the House Republican members of the Freedom Caucus that he whipped to consider the great fiscal concerns. We need a scaled, pragmatic approach that institutes good public policy, providing the political outcome that is needed during an election cycle. However, I also stand with the other backers of early-on repeal actions like Congressional leadership, Pence, and Trump.

Nevermore, agreements among the differing classes of repeal proponents can come to agreements and compromises that ensure excellent transitional measures, budgetary concerns are alleviated, and the newly elected and reelected leaders of Washington can fulfill campaign promises. The conservatives and the other flights of the Republican-held Congress need to communicate and be proactive to have an end result that is beneficial to all stakeholders.

Now, I step down from my soap box.