The Conservative Action Alert Web site starts its article with the observation “There’s an old saying: ‘You can’t fight something with nothing.'” It was gleefully touting a bill introduced by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), but they could as easily been providing post-debate analysis from last night’s Republican slugfest in Michigan.
The strains of “repeal Obamacare” from the leading Republican presidential candidates has worn a bit old. It’s a knee-jerk bromide that ignores the very real health care needs of Americans.
If those needs weren’t so real and pressing, the President and the 111th Congress would never had made the herculean efforts to pass the landmark Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” There’s no doubt the Democrats paid a political price in the mid-term elections for doing the right thing, and that many of them in swing districts were aware they might lose their seats when they cast those pretty brave votes.
There was a brief moment in political time when Republican candidates cried “repeal and replace” instead of “repeal Obamacare,” but the “replace” quickly faded from the soundbite. Last night Herman Cain made an awkward attempt to revive it. Proving to be continuously tone deaf to women, the businessman was dismissive of the first woman Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi by referring to her as “Princess Nancy” and castigating her for not advancing Price’s legislation when she was running the Congress.
Cain’s criticism ignores the fact that his party’s Speaker, Rep. John Boehner, hasn’t advanced Rep. Price’s bill either, although they were quick to politically posture with a vote to repeal “Obamacare” as one of their first acts on taking control of the House.
What happened to “replace?” Some think that Republican solutions to our health care crisis are like unicorns – mythical, magical but elusive creatures. But in fact, Republicans have been offering solid, free market solutions to this problem for decades – and most of those ideas were incorporated into the child they now deny paternity for, the Affordable Care Act. Had the bill been based on historic Democratic principles it would have looked much different, more along the lines of FDR’s Social Security or LBJ’s Medicare.
Does Rep. Price’s bill crack the code and offer innovative solutions to make the repeal of the Affordable Care Act desirable? No. Continuing along the lines of the “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” the bill largely relies on tax cuts and credits to provide coverage for the uninsured.
An area we like in Rep. Price’s legislation is the incentives he suggests for improving doctor shortages. However, here he is off-script with the party’s presidential candidate. Rep. Price, a doctor himself, would provide federal student loans for medical students, but last night, the candidates seemed to blame government for making college too expensive by providing student loans, just as they blamed government for the mortgage crisis by making it easier for people to buy homes.
We’ve recently added two extensive areas to our Web site with information on state health insurance exchanges and roll call votes on important health care legislation. We’d really like to add another section outlining the health care positions of the President’s challengers, but there is precious little to work with. A vacuum of ideas, wrapped in a deep-seated mistrust and hatred of government.
Dirty little secret: the Affordable Care Act is far from a perfect solution to our nation’s health care woes; it solves many problems with individual access to health care without doing enough to bend the cost curve. Many physicians would prefer a single-payer system to rein in costs. But as Stephen Stills wrote, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.“