Bloomberg’s editors have a good op-ed responding to the Republican Study Committee (sort of the GOP’s in-house policy think tank) and its proposed alternative to Obamacare, which is more or less a combination of long-advocated GOP health care solutions — stuff like selling insurance across state lines, pumping money into high-risk pools, offering tax deductions for individuals and families, and so on.
If the only point of Obamacare was to lower costs, the RSC plan would be a valid, if rightwing, alternative. But as Bloomberg points out, Obamacare was intended to do two things: lower costs and create near-universal coverage. On the latter point — which is the element of the bill that’s achieved by expanding Medicaid and which most appeals to liberals — the RSC plan doesn’t just fall short. It doesn’t even try:
[A]ny plan billed as an alternative has to meet one definitional threshold, and only one: covering a similar number of Americans as Obamacare. To go a step further and be a better alternative, a proposal should cover a similar number of Americans at a lower cost or with fewer unwanted consequences. The documents Republicans released today are conspicuously silent on how many additional Americans would be covered.
Until now, the Republican “repeal and replace” strategy on Obamacare has been to pretend that an alternative to Obamacare exists without saying what it is. Today’s proposal is the logical culmination of that cynical strategy: calling something an alternative, and hoping nobody notices that it’s not.
Republicans are within their rights, of course, to oppose the goal of publicly funded universal health care. They are also free to ask how much money the U.S. should spend to reach that goal and whether the country can afford it. But these are essentially political questions.
This is the weird position the Republican Party finds itself in when it comes to health care reform. For obvious political reasons, you can’t just come out and say you think some people deserve to be bankrupt (or worse) by an illness or injury.
Yet the idea that Obamacare will destroy the country by handing health care over to a government interested in rewarding the Takers at the expense of the Makers — that’s the animating spirit behind the base’s feverish opposition to Obamacare. That’s the reality. And any attempt to side-step it is going to lead, at best, to the kind of policy non sequitur the folks at Bloomberg so rightly criticize.