Loading...
BME(Bless my ears). I am 69 and admit to hearing loss but why can prime time tv shows not have the same sound quality...

GOP must seize health care issue

PONNURU

Ramesh Ponnuru

Loading…

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

For the first time in years, Republicans are playing defense on health care in the midst of an election campaign.

A lot of them would like to keep bashing Obamacare and, now, bash the single-payer plans that are drawing more and more support from Democrats. But the way they have gone after the health-care law is keeping their message from prevailing.

Congressional Republicans spent much of 2017 trying to pass legislation to make major changes to Obamacare. Democrats said those bills would gut the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions — and Republicans have never come up with a solid response to that charge.

Republicans compounded their problem by backing an ill-considered lawsuit to invalidate Obamacare, including its provisions about pre-existing conditions. Josh Hawley, the Republican candidate for Senate from Missouri, supports the lawsuit as the state's attorney general. His opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, isn't letting anyone forget it. Hawley says that he favors legislating new protections if the lawsuit succeeds.

Some Senate Republicans are trying to contain the political fallout from the lawsuit by introducing legislation they vow to enact if it succeeds. That legislation purports to prohibit insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, but it is poorly drafted. Its text requires insurers to cover people without regard to their health status, but does not appear to require the insurers to cover the conditions for which the patients need treatment.

Republicans are on stronger ground defending their previous legislative record, or would be if more of them were conversant with the issues. There, the key item of contention is a part of the House Republican bill that would have let states apply for waivers from Obamacare's regulations. In states with waivers, insurers would have been allowed to charge higher premiums to people who went without insurance, got sick and then tried to sign up.

In theory, that system would keep premiums lower by deterring people from gaming the system. Healthy people would have an incentive to buy insurance rather than wait until they got sick.

The bill would not have taken people with chronic health conditions back to the situation they were in before Obamacare. Even in waiver states, they would have Obamacare's regulatory protections so long as they maintained continuous coverage. And it would be easier to maintain continuous coverage than it had been before Obamacare. The bill largely maintained Obamacare's subsidies for people without access to employer coverage, Medicare or Medicaid.

Those with chronic conditions but no coverage, meanwhile, would have access to government-financed high-risk pools. These pools were, admittedly, oversubscribed before Obamacare. But the subsidies for people in the individual market and the regulatory protection for those who maintained coverage would both work to shrink the applicant pool.

It should also be remembered that, especially in the post-Obamacare landscape, state officials would have a powerful political incentive not to jeopardize affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The current campaign is itself evidence that the goal of keeping them covered has strong political support.

None of this puts the Republican legislation beyond critique. The Congressional Budget Office, which has long reflected the assumptions of liberal policy experts on health issues, asserted that the waivers could cause serious harm to insurance markets.

Its projection, however, partly reflected its confidence that ending Obamacare's fines on people without insurance — another feature of the Republican bill —  would have large destabilizing effects. The CBO has backed away from that view; and anyway, the fines have subsequently been ended in different legislation.

But there is certainly a policy debate to be had on these issues. It's too bad for the Republican candidates this year that so few of them have shown any ability to engage in it.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, senior editor at National Review, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and contributor to CBS News.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

February 23, 2019

The world of manufacturing is in the midst of a new industrial revolution. Today’s factory floor has evolved far beyond yesteryear’s steam-powered workshop, just as today’s Tesla Model S — internet-connected, nearly autonomous — has evolved far beyond the horse-drawn…

Harry J. Ploehn

February 23, 2019

Do you watch the TV game show Family Feud? It is good fun as one family competes with another for cash prizes, but we all know that real life family feuds can be bitter, divisive and cause great damage.

For many years the United Methodist Church, along with many other denominations has been having…

021117campbell

February 22, 2019

If the goal is to build a border wall, then President Trump has made the wrong decision at every turn. In early 2018, Trump had the opportunity to secure $25 billion in funding for his border wall in exchange for legal status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. Instead of taking…

Marc_Thiessen

February 22, 2019

The people of rural North Carolina (east and west) face unique challenges. Those of us located east of Interstate 95 share many of the same hardships and we have been in the same boat for years.

I have recently spent many hours in Pitt County with fellow lawmakers, and our brothers…

JimPerry

February 21, 2019

Several local school districts have asked the General Assembly to free them from the rigid start-date and end-date of the academic year now embedded in law. They define the issue as "calendar flexibility."

What seems a prosaic procedural matter actually poses a test of policymakers' flexibility and…

Ferrel Guillory

February 20, 2019

It's hard to be a native New Yorker and be stunned by much of anything that you see on the city's streets. But the other day I was in for quite a surprise.

As it happens, I had just mentioned a certain maternity-clothes store in Tribeca that happens to be across the street from Planned Parenthood.…

kathrynlopez

February 20, 2019

Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults —slavery and tariffs. He said: "Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more…

Walter Williams

February 19, 2019

El Chapo’s murderous Sinaloa drug cartel was based in Mexico, but for years its American nerve center was Chicago. His henchmen from the Little Village neighborhood, twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, turned the city into a conduit for as much as 1,500 kilos of cocaine and heroin each…

February 19, 2019

There's one in every family: The embarrassing relative who spouts off conspiracy theories or racist opinions at Thanksgiving.

If that relative was in your circle of friends, you'd make sure they didn't get invited ever again. But because they're family, you're stuck putting up with the crazy.

North…

Colin Campbell

February 18, 2019

I was born in Charlotte. But I grew up in rural Mecklenburg County. There used to be such a place — and, indeed, quite a few such places still exist in our increasingly urbanized state.

My family lived on 40 acres, mostly forest with a freight-rail track running through it. When the train…

john hood.jpg
311 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 32
        Next Page»   Last Page»