Three weeks ago, United States Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for the repeal of Obamacare first and then a deliberative and rational discussion about an appropriate healthcare finance system to replace the failed program. “What I think is critical at the outset is that we honor the promise we’ve made to voters for six years running now to repeal Obamacare. We’ve had three elections — 2010, 2014 and 2016 — that were referenda on repealing Obamacare, and we need to honor that promise,” Cruz said. “Once Obamacare’s repealed, then we need common sense health care reform that expands choices, that lowers prices, and empowers patients to make their own health care decisions.”
Cruz is right on the mark (with an important amendment). The 269 page “American Health Care Act” is actually much more complex because the proposed GOP leadership bill incorporates many of the existing provisions of the 45,000 page “Obamacare” law also known as the Affordable Care Act. The House Republican leadership is rushing the bill through committees so fast that the vast majority of the House members have no idea what even are the basic parameters of the replacement proposal for the existing legislation. During the markup session before the House Ways and Means Committee, on several occasions on national television, Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) had great difficulty explaining provisions of the proposed law. Similar problems arose in the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has marked up most the proposed legislation.
These issues are vitally important for Americans, their families, their children, and their businesses. The anger among conservatives, such as Senator Cruz, the Heritage Foundation, and the House Freedom Caucus is completely justified.
As Senator Cruz noted, the GOP promise was to repeal Obamacare. That’s what should happen.
The repeal of Obamacare is precisely how we’ll return the American health care system to the free market competition that will drive down prices and eventually expand coverage to more Americans who, with the repeal, will not lose jobs as a result of unfunded federal mandates (also known as TAXES) on companies that would otherwise wish to employ them. The Republicans needs to focus on increasing competition. Unfortunately, many of the Obamacare provisions that limit competition for the benefit of large private insurance companies will remain part of federal law with the passage of the Republican replacement.
The concept of “encouraging free markets” does not embody the idea of favoring large companies to eliminate competition. There’s one twist to the Cruz repeal proposal that Congress should include, however: they should include the provision in the “Trumpcare” proposal that requires “continuous coverage” for patients with pre-existing conditions, but if a patient goes 63 days continuously without coverage, they must pay a 30% premium penalty. That’s a fair method of encouraging the health insurance portability and free-market competition that Senator Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma) and President Ronald Reagan first proposed when they sought to reform health care finance in the United States during the Reagan administration.
The Republican Party of Texas 2016 Platform provides: “We urge the passage of health care reform which results in more affordable healthcare through a market-based, competitive, and transparent health care system, including tort reform, interstate competition, health savings accounts, genuine accountability and oversight.” Following the wisdom of Senator Cruz with the pre-existing condition language of the Trumpcare proposal would begin to create a market-based, competitive, and transparent health care system. Healthy interstate competition among insurance companies will create transparency.
As President Reagan and Senator Nickles made clear, “portability” (i.e., the ability to move from one insurance policy to another without fear of pre-existing condition exclusion) promotes that competition.