The GOP Tries to Sell Their “Better Way” ObamaCare Replacement Plan Again… but Who’s Buying?

Republicans keep coming out with “new” ideas, be it a Ryan plan, Paul plan, or Price plan… but each idea is a carbon copy of “the Better Way” plan with minor tweaks.

See this document for a recent example of the GOP’s Obamacare Repeal and Replace plan. It is a bit surreal honestly (especially given the decades of this plan being brought to the table in different but nearly identical forms).

Keeping in mind that this is an overview and not a full bill, this latest policy brief doesn’t just mirror the “Better Way” plan it is based on, but lacks some important provisions eluded to in the past (for example it doesn’t seem to offer up-front tax credits).

The problem here isn’t that the GOP plan is “bad.” Some parts of it are “fine” or “good.” The problem is that fine parts aside, it has some major loopholes, gaps, and doesn’t seek universal coverage. Its ends are economic. It is not aimed at expanding access to affordable healthcare; its goals are economic and ideological, not humanist.

This isn’t “way better” than ObamaCare; it won’t “cover more people,” and it doesn’t accomplish anything Trump has promised. It is the same plan Ryan and Romney wanted to pass in 2012, and the GOP wanted to pass in 2008 with a few window dressings added.

On the one hand, there is room to make it bipartisan since elements of it are sound. On the other hand, it feels as though the GOP want to do is force some version of this same plan through without considering its sticking points or throwing a bone to progressives, business-minded Democrats, or consumers by offering things like a public option.

If these plans do what they say, fewer people will have coverage, Medicaid will be less available, and a new mandate will replace the old one.

Some things will get better, like HSAs for those in higher income brackets who stand to benefit both from HSA provisions and from their investment in healthcare stocks after taxes are repealed. However, most provisions will stay the same and new problems will arise especially for people who are in lower income brackets. This is especially true given this version doesn’t eliminate the requirement to have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) in order to get the tax benefits of an HSA.

How does this help the GOP win over their base? Why does the GOP repackage their plan over and over without changing it so that people stand to benefit?

Do you think that people are so angry with Obama that they will accept results of this plan uncritically? Maybe, but it seems like a risky gamble. It won’t win over Democrats and Progressives; it is already energizing voters from both sides of the isle.

I will be reviewing The Obamacare Replacement Act (S. 222) Sen. Rand Paul, M.D. and the latest version of Better Way from Ryan and Price’s HHS rules. I’ve already reviewed all this when I reviewed the Better Way plan and when I reviewed the CARE plan before it. The CARE plan was better in some respects; Pence’s HIP 2.0 is better in others.

How many times does one have to say their preexisting conditions exclusion isn’t good? HSAs are fine for those who have the money, but their Medicaid plan is worrisome. Business as usual won’t win the support of Progressives or Democrats.

Hearing Ryan try to sell us on the bad planks is like hearing Obama promise we can keep our doctors. It’s frustrating.

I think I’ll be saying, along with my 60 million fellow voters, “the GOP are using Trump as a smoke screen while they try to pass the same tired plan without even working with Democrats or Progressives to try to solve actual healthcare problems.” We need a new TrumpCare, not the old GOPCare.

I reviewed Trump’s ideas, and I reviewed this plan before Trump put his name in the hat to run. I reviewed this plan when people thought Bush or Cruz might win, and it looks as though I’ll be reviewing this plan again.

I have my fingers crossed that I’m missing something, and I will reserve my final conclusions until legislation firms up. I can judge Price’s moves, however, and I did here, but after skimming the latest policy proposals in the Price and Ryan plans noted above, all I see is Republican hoops to jump through instead of Democrat ones. There are HDHP requirements for HSAs instead of just deregulation, stricter rules on private healthcare, fewer rules for industry and employers, more freedom for insurers, fewer options for customers, and the dismantling of Medicaid expansion which will provide even less care for lower income Americans.

Why does the GOP want to deregulate and force everyone back to depending on employers (who won’t required to offer insurance) to access insurance they can afford, especially at a time when fewer and fewer of us have stable employment that provides good benefits? I don’t know. It sounds to me like the answer is “because the GOP favors corporations over people.” They say “liberty, liberty, liberty,” but even an amateur policy analyst can see that is not what their plans are offering. The DNC plan didn’t offer “equality, equality, equality,” but this plan will result in less people having insurance and less covered benefits for those who do have insurance.

Bringing back high-risk pools and kicking people off insurance are not solutions; they are slight of hand tricks. Whatever frustration I felt toward the Democrats is melting away as the GOP keeps the same batting lineup. This is getting tiresome. Why don’t we create a plan that works for the American people?

You can frame a bad idea however you want to, but it is still going to be a bad idea. If 90% of this plan worked, I’d accept the other 5% as a compromise. But you need to do away with the worst of the old ObamaCare plan and replace it with something bipartisan and better for the sake of the American people. This plan does away with the best of ObamaCare and does nothing to address it’s failures.

Healthcare is only one of many issues, but there are tens of millions of us who have health care issues. You can hide some of the weak-points in a PDF filled with vague undefined language. Few people are going to read it all closely anyway. We will see if we have any new legislation when the voting begins. How much is the GOP willing to risk on a few bad ideas? That is the question.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Deborah on

The GOP want to take care of the rich at the expense of the poor. If they really cared about the American people, they would take the current plan and fix the problems with it. They feel they can do whatever they want without a backlash. I happen to think they are dead wrong. Good health insurance and good health care should not be a privilege of the rich! Disgusted is what I am.