Well, now we know why the GOP establishment kept their ObamaCare replacement package locked in a room where not even GOP senators could read it. Everyone naturally wondered what they were hiding, and now we know. They were hiding it because it is a horrible, no good, very bad piece of legislation.
If it repeals ObamaCare in any meaningful sense (and it doesn’t), it only replaces it with something as bad if not worse. This is exactly the kind of bill you would expect to come from the swamp that so desperately needs to be drained.
This bill does not drain the swamp. It instead brings the swamp under the protection of the public policy equivalent of the EPA, guaranteeing that no one will be able to touch it, and ensuring that it will be an ugly and muck-ridden part of the American landscape in perpetuity.
And the problem here is that, if this bill passes, the Republicans will own this thing lock, stock, and barrel until the end of time. Their scapegoat - a socialistically-oriented president who shoved ObamaCare down our throats under cover of darkness - will be gone and his name won’t be anywhere on or even near this thing. Every bad thing that will happen - escalating premiums, deductibles, copays, ever-more expensive entitlements, ballooning budget deficits - will quite rightly be laid at the feet of the GOP, 100% of it. The legacy of the GOP will be the final decimation of the greatest health care system in the world.
SwampCare keeps the ObamaCare mandate, by ordering private insurance companies to impose a 30% penalty on anyone who didn’t purchase coverage for at least 300 days in the previous year. This is euphemistically labeled as an “incentive.” It sounds much more like communism, where the beatings will continue until morale improves. The 30% penalty means that the fine for many may wind up being stiffer than anything under ObamaCare. And it’s Republicans who are doing this to us!
Taxpayer subsidies doesn’t even go to insurance companies in this misbegotten plan, they go directly to people under the guise of “tax credits.” These folks are supposed to use the subsidy to buy health insurance. What if they don’t? What if they spend their new-found money on booze and cigarettes? This program is as ripe for waste, fraud, and abuse as the food stamp program.
The GOP’s SwampCare preserves the pre-existing condition prohibition that prevents insurance companies from taking medical history into account in setting premiums. This is insanity, if your goal is to reduce the cost of health insurance for as many Americans as possible.
The ban on taking pre-existing conditions into account means that people don’t have to buy insurance until after they get sick, which guarantees a sicker pool of patients who will have to be charged higher and higher premiums (since younger and healthier Americans will be making the common sense decision not to buy something until they need it) and pretty soon nobody will be able to afford it.
Auto insurance companies take driving history into account in deciding whether to underwrite a potential customer and how much to charge. Someone with a terrible driving record - speeding tickets, DUIs, accidents - can expect to pay higher premiums. If a driver wants to pay lower premiums, the secret for him is to begin making better driving decisions today. It would be fundamentally unfair and un-American to raise everybody else’s auto insurance premiums just so he doesn’t have to pay more.
The GOP’s SwampCare is just like ordering an auto insurance company to underwrite a driver who comes to them after he has wrapped his car around a tree, and forbidding it to charge him higher premiums than it charges careful drivers who haven’t had an accident in years. It’s absurd. But that’s what the GOP establishment is trying to do.
If you don’t have to buy insurance until after you need it, and they have to give it to you, it’s not even insurance anymore. It’s something else altogether. The whole point of insurance is to buy it before you need it, to buy it in case you need it, and to buy it even though you hope you’ll never need to use it.
When we moved to the South eight years ago, we added coverage for wind damage to our homeowner’s policy, and it added a significant chunk to our premium. The reason was quite simple: we had moved from the West, where tornadoes are a rarity, to a tornado prone part of the world. The weather history - pre-existing conditions - meant we had to pay a higher cost for the same protection. We knew it would be impossible to wait until a tornado destroyed our home and then rush to an insurance company and demand full coverage.
That’s the way the real world works, and when it comes to auto insurance and homeowner’s insurance, everybody understands that. Things are no different when it comes to health insurance.
At the heart of a Christian worldview is making preparations for the future, whether for this life or the life to come, and planning ahead. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3). The time to buy insurance, in other words, is before you need it, as a form of protection for what may lie ahead.
The solution to ObamaCare is not to make it worse and grant it the government the equivalent of eternal life. No, it is to get government out the health insurance business altogether and let insurance companies develop whatever plans Americans want and compete with each other for their insurance dollars. This will instantly lower costs and increase accessibility, which is the goal.
Overnight, policies will be crafted that will make health insurance accessible to everyone and affordable for every budget. Folks with limited incomes will be able to buy low-premium, high deductible plans that will protect them in cases of unforeseen but expensive health incidents like cancer.
And in the meantime, the fact that they will be out-of-pocket for ordinary health maintenance costs means they will start making better and better lifestyle decisions and use medical resources only when they really need them. This in turn will bring down the cost of healthcare for everyone as providers lower costs to attract business.
Employers will be able to purchase low-premium, high-deductible plans for their employees and plow the money they save into tax-free HSAs for their employees, which will enable their employees to save up assets to meet their deductibles in case of a serious medical event. All of this, mind you, without the meddling hand of government.
What about those who still wind up with a stiff deductible and a large health care bill even with insurance? Well, that’s what families, friends, churches and charities are for. Christian America is the most spectacularly generous nation on earth and they will step up.
Sen. Rand Paul has prepared legislation that is market-based, incorporates HSAs and catastrophic plans (which are currently illegal), and gets government out of managing 1/6 of the American economy. His repeal-and-replace plan can be implemented in a single day.
Bottom line: ObamaCare desperately needs to be repealed and replaced. Unfortunately, SwampCare does neither. It’s a bad piece of business which ought to be buried at the bottom of the swamp instead of emerging from the swamp like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.