Hits and Misses of the Repeal Debate

By Greg Scandlen

I haven’t been able to watch the whole debate, but I’ve caught a good bit of it.  Here are some thoughts on what is going well and not so well during the endless deliberations.

HIT. The many physicians the Republicans have put forward to comment on repeal. It was so striking that at one point the Dem floor manager George Miller (D-CA) said he now understands why there is such a physician shortage – there are so many physicians in Congress. Pretty funny, but regrettably the large number of lawyers in Congress doesn’t seem to have resulted in a lawyer shortage.

MISS. Several Democratic congressmen from New York and New Jersey have said that if ObamaCare is repealed, thousands of their constituents will be deprived of health insurance due to their pre-existing conditions. No Republican has pointed out that those states have guaranteed issue (GI) for all lines of health insurance, so presumably there is no one in either state who would be deprived of health insurance for having a pre-ex. In fact, it is curious that the Dems have been able to make this such a key talking point, since on top of the GI states, some 37 states have high-risk pools, so no one should be unable to access coverage. Granted they may not be able to afford it, but affordability is a very different issue.

MISS. I have heard very little discussion of the enormous taxes in ObamaCare. Since cutting taxes is such a key issue for Republicans, one would think that cutting ObamaCare taxes would be reason enough for repeal. Plus, it is a great way to counter the argument that ObamaCare reduces the deficit. If it does so, it is only because it raises taxes dramatically.

HIT. The only Republican I heard who was actually interesting to listen to was Mike Pence. He clearly knows what he is talking about and can articulate it well. They should have given him more time.

MISS. I didn’t hear a single Republican point out that virtually all of the coverage expansion is through Medicaid – which is a lousy insurance program that is bankrupting the states. In fact, this is the “public option” that supposedly was not included. ObamaCare could well be renamed Medicaid Expansion.

MISS. One Democrat congresswoman from California pointed out that there is already a shortage of nurses and physicians, and now there will be millions of more people demanding care. Somehow she turned this into a positive, saying that therefore the law will indeed create jobs. No, it will create waiting lists of patients who need care. You can’t just create a physician by pulling someone off the unemployment line. Sheeesh!

MISS. I didn’t hear a single Republican point out that employers and unions are already voting with their feet on ObamaCare by securing waivers from compliance.

MISS. While the Democrats consistently blasted the Republicans for being in the pockets of the insurance companies, I didn’t hear a single Republican point out that ObamaCare creates an oligopoly of a very few privileged insurers under the Exchanges. Nor did I hear any question the cozy relationship between the Democrats and the drug makers.

Granted I may have missed something, but overall, I am left once again to wonder if the Republicans have the slightest idea of what they are talking about or how to craft a debate — other than maybe Mike Pence and Paul Ryan.