Adam Crain

It’s Your Move, Washington

November 18, 2016

Adam Crain

As the dust begins to settle from the raucous 2016 election season, President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans are turning their attention toward governing. With the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives all in Republican control, aspects of their agenda long stalled by President Obama have renewed life.

Not least among those items is repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, something the House has voted over fifty times to do and President-elect Trump made a central campaign promise.

Certainly, the focus of Palmetto Promise Institute is on South Carolina and state policy, but there is no doubt that the extension of the federal government into the lives of South Carolinians and the havoc federal legislation from the Obama administration has wreaked on state budgets is exemplified in Obamacare. Its continued future or demise merits our attention.

Come January 2017, new legislation making changes to the healthcare system is surely on the way, but a recent Wall Street Journal article, The GOP’s ObamaCare Strategy Pays Off is helpful in explaining the truth behind the GOP’s stance on ObamaCare all along and gives possible indicators of what a new healthcare plan might look like.

As authors Tevi Troy and Lanhee Chen explain:

“When Republicans won the House of Representatives in 2010, they immediately began repeal efforts. Since January 2011 the House has passed more than 50 bills that would repeal all or some of the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans knew that repeal had no chance of passing a Democratic Senate, but the votes placed a marker showing that a duly elected arm of the U.S. government opposed the law and was willing to take steps to repeal it.

The accusation that Republicans have no plans for an appropriate replacement is false. The GOP has multiple plans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” as well as plans from Sens. Richard Burr and Orrin Hatch and Rep. Fred Upton; Rep. Pete Sessions and Sen. Bill Cassidy; Rep. Tom Price, Sens. John McCain and David Perdue; Rep. Phil Roe and the Republican Study Committee; and Sen. Ben Sasse, among others. Add to this “Improving Health and Health Care: An Agenda for Reform,” the consensus health-reform plan by conservative scholars, including one of us (Mr. Chen), and it’s clear that the GOP has a plethora of plans.

Most of these plans focus first on driving down the cost of health care, expanding access to consumer-directed health arrangements like health-savings accounts, and replacing ObamaCare’s exchange subsidies with a refundable tax credit or some other tax benefit to help lower-income Americans afford health insurance.”

So where do we go from here?

Thanks to Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the once deliberative United States Senate has had its rules watered down so much in favor of the majority that you can be sure the Republicans give the Democrats a taste of their own medicine (pun intended) by maneuvering around a possible filibuster and sending healthcare reform to President Donald Trump sooner rather than later.

From our perspective though, the litmus test is not which party passes healthcare reform but whether or not it is based on free-market principles that will lower healthcare and insurance costs.  Will it lighten the burden on small businesses who in the Obama economy have been unable to expand because of onerous regulations?  Will it give more power to the states to reform outdated and broken Medicaid programs?

These are the questions we’ll be watching and reporting on in coming weeks.  It’s your move, Washington.