The biggest winner in Washington this week is Barack Obama, whose signature legacy is going to remain largely untouched by Republicans who are going so far as to keep the individual mandate. Of course, they will not call it that, but individuals will get a 30% penalty, i.e. a fine, if they do not keep insurance. That is the individual mandate in all but name. In fact, this is actually of questionable constitutionality because the government imposed fine would be paid to the insured person’s previous insurance company when they subsequently try to buy a new policy.
Gone? Most of the ways Barack Obama paid for his healthcare plan. In? A death panel for senior citizens. Under the Republican plan, senior citizens can be charged up to five times higher than young people who can enter an insurance plan with a pre-existing condition. By keeping the pre-existing conditions provision, which causes rates to increase, along with the permitted increase in senior citizen insurance costs, the Republicans will price a large number of seniors out of the insurance market.
To be sure, insurance companies should be able to charge whatever they want to charge, but requiring the pre-existing conditions coverage distorts the market and will harm seniors through even higher rates.
On top of it all, the GOP does not even want to phase out the Obamacare Medicaid expansion until 2020, which means they do not really want to get rid of it. By hinging the completely implemented changes on the next Presidential election, the GOP looks to be making their rebranded Obamacare a campaign issue.
The bill’s structure suggests the GOP is catering to more moderate elements within the party and they are hoping conservatives will kill it. Then they can blame conservatives for the failure to repeal Obamacare.
Trump supporters, however, should not be too concerned. President Trump promised a government-run healthcare plan, and that is what this is — Obamacare in Republican face.
Republicans have a difficult problem. They have a slim majority in the Senate and have to cater to factions throughout the party. But trying to put spit and polish on Obamacare does not really repeal it as they promised. It seems more and more certain that Obamacare is here to stay.
If the GOP is so convinced Obamacare is going to collapse on its own, perhaps they should let it instead of repackaging Obamacare and owning the collapse.