In Defense of GOPcare

As it sits, a Republican healthcare bill has passed the House, but has a tenuous future in the Senate. ‘GOPCare’ is about correcting the transgressions of a flawed system and allowing the American people to make their own choices with their bodies by fostering broadened access to insurance. Under Obamacare, one-third of U.S. counties will have only one insurance company to choose from, and this number has quadrupled over the past few years, which is evidence enough for needing reform.[1] Consider the Veteran’s Administration’s scandals as an example of the government systematically failing to manage healthcare and leaving our most revered out to dry.[2] Government is meant to protect its citizens from monopolies, not promote them at the people’s’ expense. GOPCare isn’t necessarily about small government — though estimates project it to cut spending by some $800 billion over ten years — it’s about effective government.

It is in nobody’s best interest to dismantle effective safety nets that protect our most vulnerable, and for that reason GOPCare would preserve the parts of Obamacare that worked. GOPCare would still protect Americans with pre-existing conditions who retain continuous coverage and the ability to stay on a parent’s plan until age 26.[3][4] The Senate’s healthcare bill would also maintain Obamacare subsidies for low-income Americans, capping them at 350% of the poverty level, rather than at 400% of the poverty level ($98,400 for a family of four). It would even increase subsidies for those making under 100% of the federal poverty level who otherwise do not qualify for Medicaid and have been disregarded by the Democratic healthcare system.

While Democrats continue to scare older Americans into thinking that GOPCare would ‘push granny off a cliff,’ this is a shameful fallacy. Under GOPCare insurance companies would be able to charge seniors marginally higher premiums than under Obamacare, but this just applies for private insurance, and is necessary to protect younger Americans who otherwise could not afford insurance. Medicare rates would remain constant, so in practice the majority of seniors who use it would be paying no more. Further, once unnecessary Obamacare taxes — including those on insurance premiums, prescription medication, and medical devices — are repealed, seniors will even find some relief.

Perhaps the most demonized aspect of GOPCare is its score from the CBO claiming that 22 million would lose insurance. However, it is absurd and lazy analysis to assert that by simply looking at those who gained coverage — which oftentimes did not match their needs — we can ignore the millions of Americans whose premiums doubled and how Obamacare is slated to bankrupt an already belabored entitlement program that protects our most vulnerable.

While the CBO is nonpartisan and certainly important in evaluating policy, it is inherently speculative and has proven to be inaccurate in analyzing healthcare outcomes. Note that we’ve also heard the “22 million” figure before in 2010 when the CBO erroneously claimed that Obamacare would add 21 million people into the exchanges, then amended its figure to 22 million, but ultimately overestimated by 12 million people.[5] Plus, some 8 million people who gained Medicaid coverage under Obamacare were eligible for it before the program even began, and would continue to be under GOPCare, showing that Obamacare is not as effective as was originally thought and that the CBO was decidedly wrong in its prediction.

The CBO also predicts that 5 million Americans would drop their coverage upon repealing the individual mandate, which is completely ludicrous. Millions of people would drop coverage just because they’re not forced by the government to have it. However, if they did, then that’s their own choice and not a fault of legislation. The individual mandate includes a penalty of up to $2,085 per household for those who decide that paying astronomical premiums for useless coverage is not in their best interest. It penalizes young and healthy Americans, and uses them as political fodder to prop up the unsustainable system. In fact, between 2015 and 2016 the CBO estimated that enrollment in the exchanges would double under the individual mandate, but it barely increased at all.[6] The CBO was wrong about Obamacare, and it will be wrong about GOPCare.

If you’d like to use the CBO as gospel, then consider the study it conducted in 2014 which predicted that Medicaid expansion will have caused 2.6 million Americans to have left the job market, and those who remain working on Medicaid to reduce their hours worked by 1.5-2% between 2017-2024.[7] Under Obamacare, the federal government pays the same amount for an able-bodied, childless male as it does for a disabled senior who has contributed a lifetime of work.[8] Questioning who is on Medicaid is not a “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” argument, but rather a moral one. We should free able bodied, working age Americans from the cycle of unnecessary welfare and poverty, and protect those who actually need help. This problem would be even further exacerbated by a single-payer system which the left now champions. Let’s be clear: you will pay for your coverage whether it is out of pocket, out of your Health Savings Account (HSA), or in the tens of trillions in taxes necessary to pay for socialism.

Medicaid is designed to be a system run by the 50 states, because the federal government could not possibly be the best arbiter for the needs of 325 million people. However, Obamacare incentivized states to massively expand expand their Medicaid rolls at the cost of accepting burdensome federal regulations. Unfortunately for the integrity of the system, this incentivizes blue states with high income taxes to expand Medicaid at will, and puts the burden on red states, with little or no income tax, that prioritize private solutions. For the sake salvaging the protections for those who are actually dependent on Medicaid, GOPCare sets a phase-out period for premium reimbursement rates, though states will always be permitted to expand at normal rates. GOPCare would actually give states the freedom that was promised under Obamacare, keeping the government’s role in administering healthcare policy closer to the people it would affect. The freedom from cumbersome red tape[9] would even allow states to individually pursue single-payer systems should they choose, or accept block grants to use on other health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program or the expansion of HSAs to provide more relief to families who need it most.[10] If states like their Obamacare, they can keep it under GOPCare.

Obamacare is the failing status quo. GOPCare is the product of new ideas, and is a moral plan to protect a massive portion of the nation’s economy that has been mismanaged by the previous administration. It is a plan that puts first the needs of taxpayers and patients, and is a framework for truly protecting Americans who most benefit from both public and private insurance options. GOPCare is not a complete rollback of Obamacare policies, nor should it be. It was proposed to give citizens back their freedom of choice and to continue to foster the world’s most advanced system of medical care and research. Though it faces a difficult future, hopefully Congress will come to a consensus on some version of the bill.

 

Works Cited

[1] Frostenson, Sarah Kliff and Sarah. “Nearly 1,000 Healthcare.gov counties will have just one insurer next year.” Vox. October 26, 2016. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[2] Griffin, Drew. “Billions spent to fix VA didn’t solve problems.” CNN. July 06, 2016. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[3] Politifact, and House GOP Health Proposal. “7 takeaways from GOP health care plan to replace Obamacare.” PolitiFact. March 06, 2017. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[4] “Popular coverage for children under 26 may be health law’s Achilles’ heel.” CNNMoney. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[5] Blase, Bryan. “Learning From CBO’s History Of Incorrect ObamaCare Projections.” Forbes. January 02, 2017. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[6] “Individual Mandate Penalty You Pay If You Don’t Have Health Insurance Coverage.” HealthCare.gov. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[7] “Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act: Updated Estimates.” CBO. February, 2014. Accessed July 24, 2017.

[8] Crosby, Ellen; Weaver, Caleb. “Obamacare Repeal Must Roll Back the Medicaid Expansion.” National Review. January 19, 2017. Accessed July 29, 2017.

[9] Che, Lanhee. “One more good reason to repeal ObamaCare. Now.” FOX News. March 23, 2017. Accessed July 25, 2017.

[10] Antos, Joseph; Capretta, James. “The Senate health care bill.” American Enterprise Institute. June 23, 2017. Accessed July 25, 2017