First things first: Obamacare is collapsing. Not a slow, stylized disintegration like you’d see in a Zack Snyder movie. This is a quick and messy Michael Bay-like crash that threatens to hurt millions of Americans.
The most recent evidence came in February, when Humana announced that it was pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges because of “further signs of an unbalanced risk pool.” Humana is far from alone in their concerns about the viability of Obamacares exchanges. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said “[t]here isn’t enough money in the ACA today as a structure, even with it’s fees and taxes, to support the population that needs to be served.” When asked if this meant Obamacare was “functionally” dead, Bertolini replied, “It is in a death spiral.”
Given these troubling trends, which have led to dramatic increases in insurance costs and climactic reductions in plan choice, Republicans are ready to step into the void and offer a solution.
“It has become increasingly clear that this law is collapsing,” Speaker Ryan said of Obamacare. “People’s premiums are getting higher and higher. Their deductibles are soaring. And their choices are dwindling to the point that so many families have no choice left at all.”
“Here is what is important for us all to understand: Obamacare is not simply stuck in some kind of status quo. It is getting worse by the day, and it will keep getting worse unless we act.”
Republicans have been working for months (technically, years) now on a true patient-centered replacement plan, one that focuses on giving Americans access to quality, affordable coverage. In a vacuum, creating a sustainable healthcare system that harnesses market forces to keep costs down, would be relatively straightforward. The difficulty comes in undoing the myriad traps laid by Democrats in Obamacare so that the transition is as minimally disruptive as possible.
“What the Republicans have to do is to make sure there aren’t a huge number of people hurt by the transition, that’s the reason they are daunted,” conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer told Fox News. “The Left has a genius for ratcheting up dependency and government largess, and then daring Republicans, when they come into power, into undoing it because it’s extremely unpopular.”
But Trump, in his remarks to Congress on Tuesday, was, in a word, undaunted by the challenge. If anything, he was emboldened by the urgency of the problem and confident in his five “principles” to help Americans.
“Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country,” Trump said. “The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going to do.”
“Action is not a choice, it is a necessity,” he said.
In Obamacare’s place, President Trump pushed for a system that ensures that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, help Americans purchase their own coverage through tax credits and Health Savings Accounts, give state’s flexibility to serve their Medicaid populations, implement legal reforms to drive unnecessary costs from the system, and allowing insurers to compete across state lines.
“Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed,” Trump concluded in a hopeful note. “Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing and hope.”
Obamacare is broken, but it can be fixed. Republicans are all working off the same piece of paper and coalescing around a particular replacement plan. Now, it will be up to Democrats to join forces for the good of the country and for the good of the American people.