Liberals are saying that Republican lack of interest in an Obamacare contingency plan is some kind of threat.
Jonathan Cone’s piece at the Huffington Post yesterday sounded all concerned: “The Real Reason Republicans Don’t Have A Contingency Plan For Obamacare.”
If you want to know about the Republican Party’s priorities for health care, pay close attention to what transpired — and what didn’t transpire — on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
The House Ways and Means Committee held a session to consider a number of health care-related measures. In theory, it would have been an ideal time to take up, amend and maybe even vote on a contingency plan for King v. Burwell — the case before the Supreme Court that could wipe out health insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for more than 6 million people scattered across two-thirds of the states.
The Ways and Means chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has said repeatedly that his party will have a contingency plan ready to go if the court sides with the law’s challengers. He’s also vowed, again and again, to craft an Obamacare alternative that will achieve better results at lower costs. It’s the same set of promises that countless other Republican leaders have made, although Ryan would seem uniquely positioned to deliver on them. He is supposed to be the leading policy intellectual of his party, plus he presides over a powerful committee with direct jurisdiction over health care financing.
But take a look at the official agenda for the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday. You’ll see a bill to repeal Obamacare’s tax on medical device makers and a proposal to repeal the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board, which sets reimbursement rates under Medicare. You’ll see some other legislation, too, including some other adjustments to Medicare.
Here’s what you won’t see: contingency plans for the upcoming Supreme Court ruling or alternative schemes for expanding insurance coverage.
First of all, claiming Paul Ryan is a “leading policy intellectual” for anyone is outdated information. The man who cut troop benefits for “readiness,” has long lost his reputation. He has already done enough dealing with the Democrats over the budget to lose all credibility.
Furthermore, the reason why we don’t have a public contingency plan is obvious: The Republicans in Congress have no intention of forthrightly telling people that human needs are better met and more ethically met by private society—whether the market or charity.
Water and food are essential needs of human life, yet, despite the government hampering them, the market delivers these goods much more efficiently than government ever has or could. So likewise people interacting freely are going to produce far better and more comprehensive and less expensive medical care than the government can force on us.
But does anyone think that this Congress is willing to champion that basic reality?
The generous explanation for this lack of public deliberation is that some Republican leaders and staffers really are working hard behind closed doors to hash out a serious plan. (Ryan’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, has said as much before.) They’re keeping the details a secret for now, because they see no political upside to releasing such information and then defending the inevitable trade-offs their proposal would require.
If they are working behind closed doors (and they probably are) it is because they don’t want the Republican base to witness the process by which they endeavor to save Obamacare.
So why would Republicans voters, who decidedly put their party in control of both the House and the Senate, want these Republican politicians to save Obamacare?
This is all a big psych game.