Obamacare-Lite is what the new “American Health Care Act” is being called by conservatives around the country as the term “repeal and replace” has become a bad word among hard-liners. The supposed antidote to Obamacare is explained as “a plan to drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance. It protects young adults, patients with pre-existing conditions, and provides a stable transition so that no one has the rug pulled out from under them," according to Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-R).
There has been an overwhelming sense of skepticism and cynicism on the front lines of the battle against Obamacare up to the unveiling of the bill which aimed to correct all of the problems experienced since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. You are about to witness the political dam that has been holding back the skepticism and cynicism explode as the country is about to be embroiled in an intense debate over the merits of this bill.
There is not a Tweet powerful enough to stop what you’re about to witness, even one alluding to Obama’s Nixonian-like spy games from Donald Trump.
After reading parts of the bill, it is apparent that it aims to “repair “ rather than repeal Obamacare as promised by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump.
Repeal and replace is a controversial statement amongst many hard-line conservatives because it alludes to more interference from a government of the Republican policy flavor, not a conservative one. “Replace with what” is the question that I hear a lot from many who have been fighting Obamacare. Republicans have been posturing that they were fierce opponents of Obama and the Democrats healthcare agenda.
The American Health Care Act removes the very unpopular Obamacare mandate, as well as the Medicaid expansion which will draw heavy criticism from Democrats. The previous open-ended Medicaid expansion from Obamacare will be replaced with by a fixed per-person allotment to the states for people on Medicaid. This does not appear to stop the fiscal expenditures, but rather to slow it down.
Republicans have proposed removing many of the income-based tax credits under Obamacare and have proposed instead, refundable tax credits starting at $2,000 a year per person under 30, and rise to $4,000 for a person 60 or older. A family could receive as much as $14,000 in tax credits. At the surface, this simply seems to be a political head fake by simply morphing one more open-ended entitlement system into a more restricted one. This will likely receive much criticism from conservatives.
The bill is not absent of the conservative red meat as it also strips all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but will that be enough?
Wave election after wave election in Congress since Obamacare’s passage, as well as the election of Donald Trump, has shown the American peoples’ disdain for Obamacare, but not necessarily for Planned Parenthood. In all honesty, there is probably no immediate solution the American people will like since the American Healthcare system was viewed publically as too expensive prior to the Obamacare passage, and this bill is likely not going to change much regarding healthcare costs.
The problems with the cost of healthcare are not based on the amount of money people have available to buy insurance. In fact, it has nothing to do with insurance at all, but it is the cost of “healthcare.” The mechanism to determine the value of health insurance has broken down because of the bureaucracy that has been created by the federal government and those reacting to the regulations including insurance companies and healthcare providers.
There should be no surprise to all of us why our healthcare is so expensive. Over the course of the last 60 years, we have seen doctors moving from private practices into hospitals. Determining why doctors are fleeing private practice could provide us a “chicken or the egg” debate, but it is no secret that doctors go into practice to provide care, and running a business is secondary. Running a private practice is very expensive, and requires a growing staff to keep up with all of the laws and regulations for the growing entitlement system.
This shift by doctors, which are not really fleeing private practice, but are fleeing the leviathan-like bureaucratic monster, shows where the true problem is. Doctors are moving away from a system where the patient had fewer people between them and their doctor to a system where the long lines and mountains of paperwork replace the relationship. The growing lack of human contact between the doctor and the patient is eroding the value determining mechanism of the service being provided. Instead of a more malleable and more personable service relationship between the doctor and the patient, there is now a massive maze of bureaucratic channels that extinguish any chance for price and service negotiation.
If we are to try and stamp blame on a specific party engaged in the healthcare system, we would have to spread the stamps around. It would be a merciless proverbial game of “ whack-a-mole” as we pounce the government, insurance companies, doctors, and even patients.
Yes, we have all caused the rise of healthcare for not recognizing where the problem lies. It takes a simple observation through a set of economic glasses to see where the problem is. To achieve the reduction of cost in health care requires that we look away from it as a whole. Our efforts should not focus on reducing healthcare cost directly, but rather to reduce the walls and channels that increase the cost for doctors and patients to maneuver through the best healthcare system man has ever known.
There is no secret that these walls and channels exist. After all, there is a large portion of the healthcare industry who is working to reduce overhead and increase efficiency with technology. Americans are a resilient people looking for solutions to these problems everywhere. The problem is that we, the American people, are avoiding the true elephant in the room— the government is the problem, and this includes politicians of both parties. Government bureaucrats and politicians have created the problem. They have created the channels and the walls that doctors, insurance companies, and patients have been trying to get around.
The best way to reduce healthcare costs is not to provide more money for insurance. That just further fortifies the walls that government has created. We have to remove the walls by eliminating all of the checks and measures Americans have been thrust into by laws and regulations. Entitlements create a need for accountability, and those mechanisms for accountability restrict the flow of business which adds to the cost. If the GOP really wanted to reduce the cost of healthcare, they should reduce the size of the government that tries to control it.