Health care reform seems to be something every Republican in Washington agrees needs to happen, even as there is no agreement on how to do it. Senate Majority Leader McConnell delayed the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act until after the July 4th recess because the votes to pass it simply aren’t there. The bill is bleeding support from both the right and the middle — everyone from Mike Lee to Susan Collins to John Kasich have spoken out against it.
Part of the problem is that the consensus campaign promise — repeal and replace of the so-called Affordable Care Act — has been abandoned. According to Ramesh Ponnuru’s interpretation, centrists had not thought in detail about health care policy; without a plan, they fell back on leaving Obamacare in place and simply patching the holes.
Once Republicans were in a position to do something about the law, though, they were forced to think, apparently for the first time, about specific health-policy decisions. At that point the moderates decided that they want to keep Obamacare but make it cheaper.
Ben Sasse has a different plan: Congressional Republicans should start by keeping their promises. First, repeal Obamacare to the extent possible, with a one-year delay on implementation. Second, cancel the August recess and get the job done. The Omaha World-Herald reports that “Sasse is hoping his suggestion will create both political pressure for action and a fresh slate.”
“After we gave our word to repeal and replace Obamacare’s monstrosity, we should not go back to our states during August as the American people struggle under fewer choices and skyrocketing costs,” Sasse wrote in a letter to Trump Friday morning….
The Senator went on to say that
On the current path, it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all or will instead pass a bill that attempts to prop up much of the crumbling Obamacare structures. We can and must do better than either of these – both because the American people deserve and because we promised better.
Sasse is not the only Senate Republican to suggest skipping, or at least shortening, the August recess in order to spend more time enacting the promised agenda. Axios reports that 10 senators have signed a letter sent to Mitch McConnell asking him to do just that if the Senate does not make legislative progress in July.
Those senators are Mike Lee (UT), David Perdue (GA), Steve Daines (MT), Joni Ernst (IA), John Kennedy of (LA), James Lankford (OK), Mike Rounds (SD), Luther Strange (AL), Thom Tillis (NC), and Dan Sullivan (AK).
Sasse is right that Republicans in Congress — sadly — need an incentive to do what they were elected to do. More to the point, it is imperative to remove the health care debate from the Obamacare paradigm (and not into Elizabeth Warren’s and noted health care expert Warren Buffet’s paradigm of single-payer). No legislation working on the same faulty assumptions of the problems of the American health care system and their solutions will work noticeably better than the current law.
Yet, even though the law’s defenders acknowledge Obamacare’s vast problems, all they can envision is a leftward leap in the direction Britain’s scary bad National Health Service. That’s understandable, but it is no excuse for the complete lack of imagination and planning on the right — or the lack of leadership at the top of both houses of Congress.
Thank goodness for people like Ben Sasse and Mike Lee who keep the possibility of real fixes alive.