Get ready for round two of the Obamacare replacement battle. Following the embarrassing legislation fondly remembered as “Swampcare” offered by House Republicans — less replacement than a reupholstering of something structurally unsound — President Trump shelved his attempt to repeal and replace for the foreseeable future.
Now White House officials have announced that the fight will continue next week, Politico reports, apparently as an attempt to keep Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Care Act within his first 100 days — a deadline that is fast approaching.
The text of the bill will circulate if not Friday, then by the weekend. Will we see Swampcare 2.0 or a plan focused on free markets, rather than the sorry premises on which Obamacare was fabricated? So far, all that is known for certain regarding the details, is that, according to the Politico report,
the deal…proposes giving states more flexibility to opt out of major Obamacare provisions, while at the same time preserving popular protections like the law’s ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
Rather than offend the principles of the Freedom Caucus, this bill is the product of centrist Tom MacArthur and Freedom Caucus head Mark Meadows, which suggests a greater likelihood that members will back the proposal. However, if the bill shifts too far to the right, it may lose moderates. For its part, the White House believes they are “close” to having the votes, but “people don’t want to commit without seeing the text.” In other words, wait and see.
Politico did obtain a tentative draft of the deal last week, which can be found here. One part of the proposal
would allow states to apply for “limited waivers” [under which] states could opt out of Obamacare standards setting minimum benefits that health plans must offer and a requirement — called community rating — forbidding insurers from charging different prices to people based on health status.
Politico and most liberals are wringing their hands over this, assuming that people could now be denied coverage. Ramesh Ponnuru straightened out the confusion, explaining why this would almost never be the case even if the conservative alternative of continuous coverage replaced the existing ban on denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. He writes:
In this debate, “community rating” refers to charging sick and healthy people the same premiums for the same policies. A state that used a waiver to replace Obamacare’s regulations with a continuous-coverage protection would still be applying community rating to a very large share of the population. But moderates hear “waiver from community rating” and think it means the end of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Until the text is circulated, these are only speculated pieces of the round-two replacement bill. Regardless, look for Democrats to fight tooth and nail to preserve the Obama legacy. Whether conservatives must defeat a replacement again is in the hands of those who crafted it.