The GOP bill to replace Obamacare had barely passed when Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi were already stampeding to the cameras to demagogue it. To hear them tell it, this bill is the greatest threat to public health since the 1918 influenza pandemic. It will cruelly strip away care for people with preexisting conditions, leaving millions of Americans to die agonizing deaths -- which, of course, Republicans want (Rep. Pelosi declared that they are “maliciously trying to destroy health care.”) She also tossed in a favorite theme of the Democrats, that Republicans will gut Medicare, a claim I’ve heard every election year for over 40 years, as Medicare spending has steadily risen no matter which party was in charge (from $7 billion in 1970 to a projected $949 billion in 2020.)
Amid all this apocalyptic fear-mongering, Rep. Pelosi and her cohorts conveniently forget to mention that the reason there is such urgency to replace the ACA is that it’s not only a drag on the economy and job creation, it’s collapsing by itself due to skyrocketing premiums, customer dissatisfaction and fleeing insurers (for instance, with the impending departures of Aetna, Wellmark and likely Medica, by next year, Iowans may have no choices left at all in the state’s Obamacare insurance exchange). They also never mention that the predictions of how many people won’t have insurance without Obamacare by 2020 include a large number who would voluntarily give up those policies if they were no longer forced by law to buy them. If the system the Democrats created is so beloved, then why is Nancy Pelosi no longer Majority Leader? All things considered, it’s a miracle she’s still Minority Leader.
Let’s be clear: I am hardly claiming that the GOP bill is perfect. There’s plenty to challenge, and in fact, it already looks as if the Senate will reject it and write their own bill. Those two bills will need to be reconciled, so there’s no point in getting too deep into analyzing the House version yet. But it’s worth pointing out that it does include an extra $8 billion to help people with preexisting conditions.
To put the Democrats’ claims of impending mass death in perspective, Independent Institute senior fellow John Goodman told CNBC that the figures being quoted are wildly inflated and that fewer than one percent of Americans are genuinely uninsurable and need government assistance. CNBC also noted that Medicare, Medicaid and employer-based plans are already barred from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions. When the original ACA bill set up a special bridge program to cover those with pre-existing conditions until Obamacare took effect, only 114,000 people signed up.
The larger question isn’t whether all Americans should have access to good health care. That seems to have mostly been settled in the affirmative. It’s about who should have the power to make decisions regarding your health: you and your doctors, or some faceless, bean-counting bureaucrat. To those who keep pushing for a single-payer system, I’d ask this: If you think the bureaucrats at your insurance company don’t care that much about you, when they at least have to compete for your business, why do you think the bureaucrats in a giant, no-other-choice, government health care system would?
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