Unless you believe in Santa Claus, the chances of Senate Republicans unveiling anything desirable, or even new, in the realm of American health care and insurance legislation are nil.
Sorry, Virginia, there is no better plan than Obamacare, and as most Americans will tell you, it stinks.
Despite that, Republicans have dangerously forgotten or refuse to admit that the Affordable Care Act was created because the system before it stunk even worse. Before 2008, when the ACA was created, America suffered from a quagmire of state and federal laws created to benefit hospitals, insurance companies, doctors and drug manufacturers. The ACA created a new quagmire of laws that tried to benefit patients, but to appease important campaign contributors from both sides of the aisle, Obamacare accommodated hospitals, insurance companies, doctors and drug manufacturers.
A marginal system was made worse by Republicans, who were determined to see it fail. They have either refused to fix obvious problems or actively worked to sink it. In fact, they’re doing that even now.
The reboot of Trumpcare, about to be released from a secret Senate cabal culturing this newest strain of health care, won’t be any better than Obamacare because it can’t. It is, however, likely going to be far worse, based on what the House Republicans tried to do.
It can’t be an improvement because, like all these plans, it doesn’t address the problem. Like Obamacare, Trumpcare 2.0 will be a shell game, shifting costs from one unlucky American to another, with everybody paying more for less every single year, and middle-income and older Americans taking the biggest hit.
Obamcare poured more money into the health care system to allow more people to see doctors and treat illnesses. That created a surge in the market, driving up prices with increased demand. The problem is complex, but the economics are easy to understand. The only way to reduce the overall cost of healthcare is to take those people out of the market, creating competition for fewer patients, and driving down costs. In reality, however, prices won’t go down. They’ll just stop mushrooming. If you’re young, healthy and get your insurance from work and pleased with the rates you’re now paying, you’re going to like what’s coming.
The lucky fewer who can afford health insurance will see some benefit, but unless we’re willing to let people die in hospital parking lots because they’re refused treatment for not being able to pay, that’s not going to happen either. Instead, those thrown off of insurance will get health care for free, and those now larger costs will be passed onto paying customers, just like before.
There are no good answers, but there are cruel and stupid ones, and this one even President Donald Trump has branded as “mean.”
The least-worst thing Congress could do is fix Obamacare, creating a public option for those who don’t have health insurance plans available or who just want government insurance, reducing the Medicaid load and using that money to create this Medicare Part All. Republicans and Democrats both must work to improve the system to keep it working as long as it takes to face reality: none of these systems is sustainable.
This untenable, critical problem will only get worse. We already spend more than $10,000 per American on health care, a whopping $3.5 trillion each year. Increasingly older, sicker Americans and increasingly expensive ways to keep them alive longer are a looming disaster in the making.
The best answer is to prop up Obamacare and simultaneously look at some type of universal care, and there are many options. Whether you like or dislike the notion of a system like that in Canada, Germany, Australia or Norway doesn’t matter. It’s the only sustainable system unless we agree we will no longer provide health care to those who cannot pay for it.
So America can either get real, and move toward a universal care system, or we can all get deathly sick, whether we’re in the system or outside of it.