The current plan being bandied about in Congress is to vote to repeal Obamacare now. It would become effective in one year. During the ensuing 12 months Congress will attempt to craft a replacement for the existing law. The big question is what will happen if a new law cannot be enacted during said time period?
The proposal is meant to encourage bipartisanship between battling elements of the Republican Party and between Republicans and Democrats. But what will be different during the next 12 months if no interested party is in the mood to compromise? Well, for one thing, the entire health care system might come crumbling down. But this sort of existential threat did little to encourage lawmakers to cooperate in in the past.
Something must change to make this new plan work. It has everything to do with Republican outliers who committed political treason by not supporting their president. It has everything to do with obstructionism by Democrats only interested in bringing down a despised sitting president. The same group is unwilling to offer any suggestions to deal with the health care dilemma. In fact their default solution is to leave Obamacare in place even though most experts are saying the law is going to destroy our health care system and maybe our economy.
At the current low point of congressional and presidential approval ratings it might be a good time for Americans to demand bipartisanship. The leaders of both parties must first consent that unless Congress finds compromise the country is going to be in deep trouble. Moreover this plan can only work if Congress overtly concurs to keep the positive aspects of Obamacare and excise the provisions that are making the entitlement a disaster.
For instance retention of the provision that enables Americans to buy insurance even if they have preexisting conditions, and the provision that allows children up to 26 years of age to stay on their parent’s policies should be included in the new deal. These items are generally acceptable to everyone. Also the sale of insurance across state lines should be permitted to ensure that Americans have access to competitive and diverse sources of coverage.
On the other hand Democrats must allow Republicans to strike down the mandate provision of the law. It is one of the most hated aspects of Obamacare, especially among young, healthy Americans. No one should be forced to buy insurance that is excessively expensive because it contains unwanted protection. And usurping resources from the healthy to subsidize the unhealthy in this manner is bad policy, if not unconstitutional.
The solution to this important issue is to give Americans the opportunity to tailor coverage that meets individual needs, rather than forcing more extensive and costly coverage on them. For instance a healthy 30 year old might only want catastrophic coverage for serious injuries and maladies. This person would buy hospital coverage and would pay for everyday problems out of pocket. The result would be a lower premium and a happy insuree.
Another issue is that Americans are not being told the whole truth about Obamacare. First, and related to the comments about the mandate, is the fact that a new program, as outlined by Republican senators, would effectively cause millions to loose their insurance. This is not quite correct.
Some people who now have insurance were forced to buy it or face a penalty. If this mandate were to be stricken from the law some Americans would voluntarily opt out of the system, a right they should have. This phenomenon could be mitigated, as delineated earlier by providing tailored and cheaper coverage. In any case using the loss of coverage as a scare tactic will not get us to a viable new law.
Also comments by liberals that Republicans want to take health coverage away from the poor people are total nonsense and unproductive. Republicans have not indicated this is an objective. Rather they want a program that is fair to the poor and to taxpayers. Just because Medicaid was jacked up during the Obamacare years does not mean the level of coverage is not excessive. This aspect of the law will require a great deal of effort, compromise and sensitivity. But Medicaid aids about 70 million Americans. It is a monstrous cost to taxpayers that must be dealt with carefully.
Here is a suggestion that will force our lawmakers to compromise and do their jobs. The political penalties to our lawmakers must be significant if they are unable to resolve the Obamacare dilemma.
Consider the following. The filibuster should be eliminated to expedite the enactment of a law to replace Obamacare. If may be a fact that the law will not fixable if a supermajority is required for passage of the entire plan or its parts. The ability of the minority to waylay negotiations must be eliminated.
In the same vein Republicans should be required to deliver a law approved by a majority in both houses or face a severe penalty (keep in mind the Republicans currently have a majority in both houses of Congress). In this regard all members of Congress would submit their resignations if they are unable to enact a new law. They then would compete in a special election enabling the American people to replace those in power that have been an obstacle to new health care legislation.
The aforementioned is radical, but the current health care situation is becoming a serious existential threat. It must be corrected in the near future with or without the current cast of lawmakers in Washington.