The House Republicans were forced to cancel yesterday’s scheduled American Health Care Act vote. The Freedom Caucus, the Caucus of No, couldn’t be satisfied. Congressmen like Jim Jordan (R, OH) and Caucus of No Chairman Mark Meadows (R, NC) refused late compromises, all the while insisting by implication from their refusals that constituents of other Congressmen, for instance Tom Cole (R, OK), worked for them and not that Cole worked for his Oklahoma constituents—and that those Oklahoma constituents might have different imperatives than those Congressmen of the Caucus. So, no compromise from the No-ers.
One aspect of the plan on offer in the House is this:
…whether it includes enough reform to arrest the current death spiral in the individual insurance market.
Notably, the bill includes a new 10-year $100 billion “stability fund” that allows states to start to repair their individual insurance markets. Before ObamaCare, it wasn’t inevitable that costs would increase by 25% on average this year, or that nearly a third of US counties would become single-insurer monopolies. With better policy choices, states can make coverage cheaper and more attractive for consumers and coax insurers back into the market, and the stability fund is a powerful tool.
Karl Rove talked about health care coverage prospects in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, and that triggered a thought in my pea brain.
Senator Tom Cotton (R, AR) has announced that the House plan on offer, a plan designed to be passable through reconciliation, with later phases of repeal and replace for completing the task, is dead on arrival, and the House shoe start over and produce a more comprehensive plan in this first phase. But Cotton has chosen to not offer a plan of his own, or outline what a plan acceptable to him would look like other than to address taxes and to more fully repeal right damn now Obamacare, or even to offer the tactics he’d use to get the new plan—which could not be done through reconciliation—past a Progressive-Democrat filibuster.
In the main, I’m opposed to these on a couple of grounds. One is that it’s just more welfare; we need to find a way to move folks off welfare and into the labor force and jobs rather than keeping them trapped in the welfare cage—like we did when we originally reformed the food stamps program by requiring recipients to get a job or lose the stamps. That reform not only reduced overall unemployment, it put recipients back into jobs (and off that welfare program). These weren’t make-work jobs, either; net prosperity for those recipient families increased. (Then the Obama administration withdrew the work requirement, and we got record numbers of folks back on food stamps).
Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, says go big or go home regarding Obamacare. Republicans in Congress should quit dithering, should not play reconciliation games, and should simply put an Obamacare repeal and replace package up for vote. This would force the Democrat obstructionists—especially those #NeverTrumpNoHow and #NeverRepublicanNotEver Progressive-Democrats in the Senate on the record as by-name blocking reform of the Obama program that is in its death spiral, the endpoint of which will leave millions of Americans without health coverage and without even coverage providers to which to appeal. Especially put those 10 Progressive-Democrats pretending to moderacy in order to protect their precarious reelection chances in 2018 on the spot.
Anna Wilde Mathews wondered about that in her piece in The Wall Street Journal. First, a couple of asides. Notice the tacit acknowledgment that we have no health insurance plans available. That industry was eliminated in toto by Obamacare, which replaced the industry with a Federally mandated, publicly/privately funded health coverage welfare program. Next, notice the tacit assumption in the piece’s subhead: that the law should mandate business decisions.
To the piece itself:
The 2010 health law created a new set of federal requirements for plans sold to individuals and small businesses, including a list of 10 benefits, among them prescription drugs, mental-health services and laboratory tests. It also mandated that plans cover preventive services such as vaccinations at no cost to enrollees.
The Wall Street Journal posited this in a Wednesday op-ed.
1. Provide a path to catastrophic health insurance for all Americans.
The WSJ then supports this with old saws: being covered generally leads to better medical results, health insurance is good for the wallet, and so on. Then they want a government solution—while they carefully avoid saying how they would pay for it:
The ObamaCare replacement should make it possible for all people to get health insurance that provides coverage for basic prevention, like vaccines, and expensive medical care that exceeds, perhaps, $5,000 for individuals.
As even President Barack Obama (D) has finally confessed, Obamacare plan premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing. But the Democrats and their Progressive fellows are cynically obfuscating the matter. Here’s a typical remark, by HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Kevin Griffis:
Headline rates are generally rising faster than in previous years…headline rates are not what they [recipients of Obamacare subsidies] pay.
Indeed not. Those rates are what you and I and our fellow taxpayers who don’t get subsidies pay, and they’re rates for which we pay a second time in the form of the subsidies Obamacare passes on to potsful of Obamacare plan purchasers. We pay for those subsidies with our tax payments.
Medicaid is a State-run program for providing a measure of medical service for that State’s relatively indigent citizens. The program is State-run, but it’s jointly funded by the State’s taxpayers and by the nation’s taxpayers via Federal funds transferred to each State for the purpose. I’ve often written that Federal funds for Medicaid should be ended and that the States should be allowed to fund and manage their Medicaid programs alone—without Federal funding and associated Federal interference.
Here’s another reason to end Federal funding for a State’s Medicaid program.
The headline of this Wall Street Journal piece pretty much says it all: Average Cost of Employer Health Coverage Tops $18,000 for Family in 2016.
The sub-head, with careful reading, adds clarity: Pace of cost increase slowed by accelerating shift into high-deductible plans, new survey shows.
That cost of employer coverage, buy the way, refers to the premiums employees must pay: $18,142 for a 2016 typical employer-offered family plan, and employees have to pay 30% of that, typically, up from 29%. Like a sergeant I once worked with liked to say, sort of, “Holy cats.”