My View: GOP should focus on making health insurance cheaper for all
January 16, 2014
Assuming the GOP drops the "repeal Obamacare" slogan and instead tries to repair the Affordable Care Act, what could they offer? They should make all health insurance cheaper for consumers instead of taking away its benefits, quit proposing implementation delays, and stop the campaign to scare away would-be participants.
Every time those with squeaky wheels get greased by an exemption or delay, insurance companies warn that reducing the pool of healthy participants would shift more costs to everyone else. Opt-out provisions and fewer people covered only brings up the costs.
Obama-scaring has been part and parcel of GOP strategy to whack health care reform at the knees, and their newest attack is to claim the federal site is not secure. Their proposed legislation to notify you of security breaches is a proposal the administration claims fixes something that "ain't broke" and is already handled by other laws. Needed or not, such legislation does not alter Obamacare and would not be the first redundant legislation cluttering law books. What the GOP is doing is playing on recent news about security failures in Target and Nieman Marcus credit cards, information to scare you from going online to sign up for health insurance. The GOP has attempted mightily to make Obamacare look like a failure. Scaring away potential customers is not the only tactic the GOP has used to self-fulfill their prophesies. The GOP has tried to cripple access to the system by blocking local navigators signing up people, refusing to expand Medicaid, claiming it will be too expensive, and limiting choice of doctors. They cherry pick stories that dramatize the few, and ignore the ever increasing and overwhelming numbers who find it is good enough for them, their friends, coworkers, and relatives.
We can expect the GOP to come up with more ideas to replace and repair Obamacare. Any "repairs" should not yank the supported requirements of covering pre-existing conditions or young adults on their parents' insurance, or reinstating lifetime caps on the amount of coverage, or removing the gender and mental health parity standards. Removing co-pay free cancer screenings, or annual checkups, or certain reduced drug benefits from the health care act provisions would not make health care more affordable to anyone.
GOP " repairs" should keep the act's cost-reducing provisions. Cost-saving measures required of providers and "pay-fors" built into the Affordable Care Act, per the Congressional Budget Office, echoed by Simpson-Bowles proposals, will save the deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years and add 12 years to the Medicare fund. GOP's replacement proposals to-date sound nice, but do little. Health savings accounts only benefit those with jobs and who do not live paycheck to paycheck. Cross state insurance sales and malpractice reform are ideas evaluated four years ago by the Congressional Budget Office as having minimal effect on consumers' insurance rates or do not result in covering most of the previously uninsured.