Wednesday, March 8, 2017



Most of you are no doubt aware that yesterday (March 7), Paul Ryan revealed the House plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (aka: Obamacare). It immediately became clear that this plan--- developed behind closed doors with zero participation by Democrats or Health Insurance Companies or, apparently, many Republican congresspersons--- is going to please almost no one.

The first four paragraphs of today’s (3/8/17)  NY Times article G.O.P. Health Bill Faces Revolt From Conservative Forces” says it all:

After seven years of waiting longingly to annul President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Republican leaders on Tuesday faced a sudden revolt from the right that threatened their proposal to remake the American health care system.
[Ed: The right doesn’t like it one bit]
The much-anticipated House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act also drew skepticism from some of the party’s more moderate members, whose constituents have benefited from expanded coverage in recent years.
[ Ed. Neither do moderates whose constituents have greatly benefitted from Obamacare]
The criticism came even before lawmakers knew the cost of the replacement plan and how many people might lose their health care if it were enacted.
[ Ed. The authors of the plan haven’t even analyzed its cost or how many people will lose coverage under it]
House Republicans were rushing the legislation through two powerful committees — Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce — with the hope of a full House vote next week, an extraordinarily compressed time frame considering that the legislation affects many parts of the United States economy and could alter the health care of millions of Americans.
[Ed. Republicans in both the House and the Senate are planning to ram through  this highly complex and consequential plan in a totally unrealistically fast timeframe, which could only be accomplished by denying almost any input from Democrats, dissident Republicans, the healthcare industry, and, perhaps most importantly American citizens who will be affected by this plan of ending Obamacare and replacing it with……?]
I think the above (and the rest of the article) all point to the conclusion I offered in my previous analysis (Morning Pete’s Issue #1: Affordable Health Care),
In my opinion, the usually enviable position of controlling all 3 branches of government (and the vast majority of state governments) actually puts Republicans in a lose-lose situation. If and when they repeal the ACA, no matter what they come up with as a replacement is going to result in loss of coverage, reduction in benefits, and increased costs for millions upon millions of Americans and, it is also likely to cause chaos and disruption in any sector of the economy that intersects with health care, including the sensitive financial services and insurance sectors. (Anybody remember “Too big to fail?”)
Of course, none of this will be good for the country and it seems likely that Republicans will rightfully be blamed, no matter what they do.
When that happens, if it proves to have significant electoral consequences and Democrats (especially progressive ones) regain real power in state and federal government, I believe we may see a single-payer national insurance system that eliminates the insurance companies from the individual healthcare system (which, by the way may come as a relief since insurance companies historically have preferred less volatile, very predictable markets) and gives the federal government the right and responsibility to jawbone pharmaceutical companies to lower prices.
For another, very interesting analysis of the healthcare reform conundrum, I highly recommend that you read “ Why Republicans Can’t Do Health Care”, written, by of all people, conservative NY Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat. In this piece, Douthat suggests that the healthcare conundrum currently stymying the Republicans may actually be symptomatic of another, far deeper crisis for our country, and perhaps the world. He writes:
… the political scientist Stephen Skowronek...argues that certain presidencies are “disjunctive” — straddling a political order passing into history and another one struggling to be born. And “disjunctive” generally means ineffective, because the parties such presidents are leading are likewise trapped between past and future and unable to unify and act.
Douthat’s further elucidation of this proposition in light of the healthcare debacle,  it seems to me, points implicitly to a point I made in my first post-election post: The Day After the Election: I Choose Optimism over Despair
A pox on both these parties. I believe that the two-party system with all of its electoral flaws is actually beginning to crumble and that by 2020, there will be at least 6 more-or-less viable political parties (3 on the right and 3 on the left) running candidates in local, state, and federal elections.

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