Republicans New Healthcare Distraction

Marketplace Magic: And Then a Miracle OccursI’ve been waiting a while for Steve Scalise’s press conference, but I don’t think I need to wait any longer. This afternoon, he is gong to present the Republican Study Committee’s “alternative” to Obamacare. The reason I don’t have to wait is that I’ve always known what their alternative is: the same conservative wish list that they always want. Bruce Alpert at provides us with a preview, Rep. Scalise’s Conservative Caucus Presents Alternative to ObamaCare.

The main thing that the Republicans are offering is high risk pools to cover people with pre-existing conditions. This is the perfect conservative policy. You see, it seems to fix a problem without really doing it. The high risk pools are more or less the answer for the problems faced by rich people with pre-existing conditions. So people with pre-existing conditions can go to these high risk pools, but most won’t be able to afford them. Brilliant.

The next idea is to “increase competition” by allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. All this will do is cause all the insurance companies to relocate in the state that has the least regulation—just like now happens in the credit card industry. Aaron Carroll explains what the end result would be, “What we would have is a world where it would be likely cheaper for those who don’t need health care to get insurance. For everyone else, especially those who need care, insurance would be more expensive, and care harder to obtain.” That’s a typical reverse Robin Hood kind of policy: take from those in need and give to those not in need.

The plan also includes health savings accounts (HSAs). They allow people to buy high deductible insurance policies at reasonable prices while having tax deferred savings accounts to pay for everything up to the deductible. The problem is that for a plan with say a $2,000 deductible, you will still be paying over $100 per month—most likely much more. That’s not a great deal when you consider that more than half of the uninsured will be able to buy a normal insurance plan for about $100 with Obamacare. There is also the problem that people with HSAs are incentivized to avoid preventative care. What’s more, these are not really plans for the poor; those most able to use them are probably already getting insurance from their employers.

Basically, the Republican Study Committee’s answer to the healthcare crisis in this country is the same as it always is: the magic of the marketplace will fix everything. It is like the old cartoon of the two mathematicians at the chalkboard. There is math on the right and the left connected with “Then a miracle occurs.” We start with high healthcare costs that have existed despite all kinds of free markets working on the problem. And we end with low healthcare costs. How? Magic! Of course the Republicans don’t actually believe in the magic of the marketplace. They simply don’t want to do anything to help the poor and weak. This plan that Steve Scalise is presenting is not actual policy; it is simply political cover. But don’t be surprised if it gets a lot of good media attention.

Update (18 September 2013 1:05 pm)

I blew it! I forgot one of the Republican’s favorite policy ideas: tort reform! Yes, allowing people to not sue their doctors for malpractice is going to save our medical system! This too is a myth. Anyway, The Hill provides a preview of the official plan. I thought this part from the article was telling:

Roe said Scalise came to him a few months ago with a set of marching orders. “He said you can’t have any mandates in this bill. You can’t raise taxes. You’ve got to reform the tax code, but there can’t be any subsidies involved,” Roe recalled.

This is why Republicans always come up with bad policy. They start with everything that they can’t do. So they never approach any problem with, “What’s the best way to solve this?” And so they provide justifications for why all the things they always want to do will fix this problem. It’s just propaganda, not policy.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “Republicans New Healthcare Distraction

  1. How the fuck can anyone possibly think that not being able to sue doctors for malpractice is a [i]good[/i] thing? Do conservatives now just take the most abhorrent, evil positions on any given issue? I mean, c’mon, man! If they ever pass such a thing, I hope some doctor somewhere unnecessarily amputates one of these Republican’s limbs, or does something else equally qualifying as malpractice, and says, "Oops! Too bad you passed that bill and can’t sue me now."

    But you’re right about all this. It’s just a cover. They don’t give a damn about healthcare for anyone but themselves and their super rich cronies.

    PS: There is a typo in your article here: [quote]Yes, allowing people to not [b]sure[/b] their doctors for malpractice is going to save our medical system! [/quote]

  2. Mack — it’s an example of what’s been happening to the Democrats for years. They keep "compromising" (not with the will of voters, but the wills of their campaign contributors), and the spectrum keeps moving rightward.

    Remember, ObamaCare (Dems never should have used that name, they should have always called it "Affordable Care Act") was a Republican idea. Romney passed it in Mass. Rather than stand behind a slight shift to the left — Romney’s plan plus a "public option" — the Dem compromised by accepting Romney’s plan to a T. Most Dems supported the public option (and the public did, in polls), but the ones who didn’t were big insurance money recipients and worried about "jobs" being lost.

    So, surprise surprise, the GOP is now moving the "compromise center" rightward, as they do, and guess what! If they got their way, every state headquartering a big insurance company would lose all those jobs to Mississippi (or Guam, or wherever.)

    Dismantling unions was never about cutting wage costs (and still isn’t.) It was/is about removing a political organizing force that educated and united leftists to push politics just as hard as big money did. Now that unions are almost gone, they have big money (and fundamentalist churches) and what do we have to mobilize support? Not much . . .

  3. @Mack – The idea isn’t to stop people from suing. It is just to greatly limit the amount of damages. It is the same as JMF noted about unions. Trial lawyers give money to Democrats. So it is about defunding a group that supports Democrats. Of course, Democrats are so clueless that many of them have gone right along with it.

    It is a bad idea to ever think that the Republicans are stupid, but you can’t overstate just how evil they are.

    @JMF – Of course, the Republicans were never in favor of Obamacare. They only claimed to support it as a delay tactic.

    I called Obamacare the ACA until the White House accepted the term. The Democrats never used it. It was named that by the Republicans. It took about a year before the White House decided to just embrace the name. I think it’s fine and in 20 years it will be a badge of honor and the Republicans will regret naming it after a Democrat.

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