Senator Mike Rounds appears to think that the only way to sell the Republican plan to take health insurance away from millions of Americans is to keep shouting “Obamacare!”
I think the American Health Care Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, is a step in the right direction. Removing the mandates, eliminating the taxes, providing more flexibility for states and clearing a path for the free market to work again are all good steps toward reducing premiums for families and employers.
But, it’s not perfect and I would like to see improvements, including a transition plan for folks closing in on retirement, clear assurances on how we’ll handle pre-existing conditions and stronger promotion of group insurance plans because that is the most effective delivery system we have.
Should the House bill be improved? Absolutely. Is it still better that Obamacare? Without a doubt [Senator Mike Rounds, weekly column, 2017.05.05].
Rounds’s understanding of the phrase “without a doubt” is, without a doubt, flawed. “Better than Obamacare” should mean, as Donald Trump said, “insurance for everybody… much less expensive and much better.” Trumpcare makes insurance more expensive for victims of rape and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. It cuts Medicaid and reduces services for special education students. It makes all these cuts just to give Donald Trump and a few other rich people a huge tax cut. There is thus plenty of doubt that Trumpcare is better than the current system.
The problem Mike Rounds and his Republican word-warpers are going to hit is that Barack Obama is no longer in office to take the blame. Millions of Americans don’t look at their coverage as Obamacare; they look at it as their health coverage, as decent services that they and their children are going to lose because of Donald Trump, Kristi Noem, and Mike Rounds. Even some Rounds voters will be less scared of Rounds’s tired old bogeyman argument about retired Obama and more scared of losing their basic health benefits.
Related: Rounds’s former fellow governors have plenty of doubts about the merits of Trumpcare:
The House Republican repeal bill narrowly approved Thursday lets states opt out of much of Obamacare — but not a single governor has stepped up to say they want to take advantage of that leeway.
Officials in a dozen states surveyed by POLITICO weren’t eager to embrace opt-outs that would let states skirt key insurance provisions, including safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions and a set of basic, required health benefits.
That reluctance is striking given that “state flexibility” has been at the top of the governors’ health care wish lists for years. It shows the political peril of endorsing a concept that could spike premiums and risk coverage for the sick, including some with life-threatening or disabling conditions [Rachana Pradhan, “Even Red States Are Wary of Ditching Obamacare Protections,” Politico, 2017.05.06].