As soon as the newly elected 115th Congress was gaveled to order last week, both houses got to work on the long-promised effort to “repeal and replace” the failed legislation known as Obamacare. The Senate, with its more cumbersome rules, began 50 hours of debate on a budget resolution that will eventually repeal much of the law by reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of 51 Senators.
In the House, “replace” was launched with a bill endorsed by the 170-member Republican Study Committee, which is by far the largest caucus in the chamber. In introducing the bill, RSC chairman Mark Walker and lead sponsor Dr. Phil Roe stressed their intention to protect the small number of Americans who currently benefit from Obamacare, while improving the system for the much larger number who have been harmed.
Only about 16 million Americans (5% of our population) directly benefit from Obamacare. That number includes 12 million covered by Medicaid expansion plus 11 million who bought insurance on the exchanges, minus 7 million of those who previously had insurance.
Another estimate by the American Action Forum puts the number of Obamacare beneficiaries at only 13-14 million people, which is just 4% of the population. On the other hand, about 8 million Americans have been hit with fines for refusing to buy an inferior product.
For the great majority of Americans who received no benefit from Obamacare, their damages include higher premiums for health insurance, higher deductibles, higher taxes to fund the system, and reduced competition among insurance providers. It’s no wonder that polls have consistently shown that Americans want to throw out Obama’s signature law and start over with better ideas.
A poll by CNN in July 2014 reported that only 18% of Americans believed that Obamacare made them or their families better off, while 35% said it made them worse off. More recently, a poll conducted in February 2016 by the liberal National Public Radio (NPR), which spent years promoting Obamacare with our tax dollars, found that only 15% of those polled said they were personally benefited or directly helped by Obamacare, while 26% said they were directly harmed by the law.
The fraud of Obamacare started with calling itself “affordable.” Its basic theory was to force everyone to buy a very expensive standardized plan, and then set up a complex system of subsidies to help people pay for what they can’t afford.
To accomplish that impossible goal, the Democratic Congress in 2010 passed a 2,500-page bill, which the Obama administration reinforced with 20,000 pages of regulations. The new Republican bill, at only 184 pages, understands that the key to making health insurance “affordable” is to allow people to save money by buying the insurance they need for their families, without the unwanted mandated benefits that jack up the price.
So much of the high cost of health insurance is due to benefits mandated by federal and state government. The latest mandate for health insurance is to provide gender transition, including surgery, for people who feel the need to live in the opposite sex.
In California, a man serving a life sentence for murder has just received sex-reassignment surgery, and will spend the rest of his life sentence in a women’s prison. That surgery cost an estimated $100,000, which will be split between federal and state taxpayers.
In New Jersey, a woman who wants to become a man is suing a Roman Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a hysterectomy. The lawsuit claims that an Obamacare regulation requires all hospitals, regardless of their religious beliefs, not to “discriminate” against transgender persons.
So long as the medical profession observed the 2,500-year-old Hippocratic Oath, which cautions first, do no harm, most doctors would refuse to remove a healthy organ for purely psychological reasons. Now doctors are told that basic health care for transgender persons includes surgery to mutilate their bodies by removing healthy organs.
The transgender mandate can be traced to Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which issued a new rule last May purporting to implement a provision of Obamacare. Fortunately, a federal judge in Texas has temporarily enjoined that regulation, ruling on December 31 that it “is contrary to law and exceeds statutory authority.”
The Republican “replace” bill includes several simple ideas to give families much greater freedom of choice over their own health care. It would eliminate the crippling restrictions on health savings accounts, such as the rule that prevents you from using your HSA to pay health insurance premiums.
By unleashing health savings accounts, the bill would finally realize the vision of Phyllis Schlafly’s friend, the late J. Patrick Rooney, who built Golden Rule into the nation’s largest provider of individual health insurance. Seeking to level the playing field between individual and employer-owned insurance, Rooney recognized that a part-time waitress without employer coverage should enjoy the same access to health care as a corporate executive.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously on September 6.