Seven years of promising Obamacare repeal leaves Republicans just one option

By Jarrett Stepman | The Daily Signal

Obamacare is failing.

It has done little to fulfill its original promise of producing more choice and lower costs, and worse, has set off a cascading set of problems that will increasingly hurt the American people.

When President Donald Trump was asked Tuesday if the bill to repeal Obamacare was dead, he responded:

I don’t think it’s dead, no. But I’m certainly disappointed. For seven years, I’ve been hearing “repeal and replace” from Congress, and I’ve been hearing it loud and strong. And then when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don’t take advantage of it. So that’s disappointing.

On Twitter, Trump also suggested that we should just let Obamacare “fail” so we can fix it later with a good health care plan.

Though this statement is somewhat ambiguous, it would be incredibly harmful if we allow the American health care system to continue decaying.

Congress created this mess of a law and has a duty to undo it. Letting Obamacare simply collapse is not a responsible option for the American people. It doesn’t help the millions of people harmed by current policies.

Failure to tackle this issue now would squander an incredible opportunity for reform and leadership.

It is inexcusable for the GOP, which has majorities in Congress, a president in the White House, and widespread officeholders in the states, to fail on delivering on its most prominent and recurring promises from the past seven years.

As the summer drags on, and as the Republican-controlled Congress has yet to place a health care bill on the president’s desk, it’s important to remember what is at stake.

Where It Stands

As of Monday night, health care reform appeared to be in a perilous position as Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., announced they would vote “no” on the motion to proceed on the Obamacare replacement plan making its way through the Senate.

Given that these defections would likely drop the vote count below what is needed to pass the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would instead vote on the 2015 House repeal bill that was vetoed by President Barack Obama.

However, this plan could also have complications as two Republican senators, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, said they would not vote for the 2015 repeal plan.

McConnell delayed summer recess until mid-August to get legislation through, so unless it’s canceled entirely—as some legislators suggest — Congress has just weeks to get things right before the long wait until the next session.

This is a huge risk, and could be seen as a serious blow to voters who gave the Republican Party a majority to tackle laws that were difficult to get through under a Democratic president.

A Deteriorating and Costly System

It is worth noting what the cost of failure will be if Obamacare is left in place.

As Heritage Foundation health care expert Ed Haislmaier told The Daily Signal:

Every day that goes by that Congress does not repeal Obamacare hurts Americans and further damages our health system. The Senate needs to focus on repeal to undo Obamacare’s damage and commit itself to the hard work of replacing it with a system that actually works for Americans.

Since the law was passed in 2010, Americans have suffered through mandates, premium hikes, increased taxes, and worsening options.

Insurers have pulled out of Obamacare exchanges en masse, destabilizing markets and reducing competition.

Premiums for the average American have risen enormously, in some states doubling and tripling since Obamacare was passed.

According to a study released by the Department of Health and Human Services, the average annual premium cost in 2013 was $2,784. By 2017, the average cost on Healthcare.gov was $5,712.

Additionally, Obamacare rapidly expanded Medicaid, which was designed as a safety net for low-income children, the elderly, and the disabled. When Obamacare extended its eligibility to millions of able bodied adults, it put the program on a fiscally unsustainable path.

These are just some of the many issues that need to be tackled—or else the American health care system will continue to deteriorate.

Desperate Courage Makes One a Majority

Progressives can often operate with the assumption that once passed into law, entitlements will simply never go away.

Electoral success comes and goes like the tide, yet the expansion of government seems to stay and grow regardless of temporary political change.

While conservative legislators may have a difficult electoral task, their voters should demand leadership.

Republicans have a rare opportunity, perhaps only a brief window, to undo the damage — both in the present and in the future — of a law that’s already proving to be bad for the American people.

Would the great legislative leaders in American history have balked because the task was arduous?

President Andrew Jackson once remarked that “desperate courage makes one a majority.” Relentlessly fighting to repeal Obamacare may cost some votes, it may upset special interests, and it may be a thankless responsibility. But leadership requires courage.

Though the margin for success is perhaps narrower than expected, the fight to repeal Obamacare is one worth having. It may be painful, but the consequences of failure will be much worse.