The GOP’s health care conundrum

What would it mean if conservatives “win” the healthcare fight?

That’s the question being asked by David Frum, a former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, and in a recent post on, Frum opines that a “win” in the current health care fight really wouldn’t be a victory:

For some, the answer is obvious: beat back the president’s proposals, defeat the House bill, stand back and wait for 1994 to repeat itself.

The problem is that if we do that… we’ll still have the present healthcare system. Meaning that we’ll have (1) flat-lining wages, (2) exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs and thus immense pressure for future tax increases, (3) small businesses and self-employed individuals priced out of the insurance market, and (4) a lot of uninsured or underinsured people imposing costs on hospitals and local governments.

We’ll have entrenched and perpetuated some of the most irrational features of a hugely costly and under-performing system, at the expense of entrepreneurs and risk-takers, exactly the people the Republican party exists to champion.

Not a good outcome.

If we win, we’ll trumpet the success as a great triumph for liberty and individualism. Really though it will be a triumph for inertia. To the extent that anybody in the conservative world still aspires to any kind of future reform and improvement of America’s ossified government, that should be a very ashy victory indeed.

If Republicans do prevail in the current fight over health care reform without offering a real health care reform plan of their own, they’ll no doubt suffer some serious backlash.

H/T to Michael Mathias.


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5 thoughts on “The GOP’s health care conundrum

  1. Same “if you’re not for us, your against us” argument. Failure of this healthcare proposal does not mean healthcare reform cannot happen. There are many individual issues than can be resolved much more easily – both in terms of the success of solving the problem, and in terms of getting it passed.

    For example, a bill that deals with the pre-existing conditions issue would be supported by such a huge majority of voters it would be trivial to pass because politicians opposing it would be facing an even worse backlash than those in favor of the current plan are now. A bill separating healthcare from employment would be almost universally supported as well. Covering health insurance premiums for the people who are too poor to pay for their own – could be an easy win. Start mucking things up with layer upon layer of complexity, pork and controversial issues – like they’re doing – and you get a mess.

  2. Pre-existing conditions is an overblown problem…. HIPA provides for coverage of pre-existing conditions but nobody seems to want to report that.

    1. You know, I’d kinda forgotten about that. A quick look back at HIPAA – on its face, it certainly seems to address a lot of the pre-existing condition problems. Which leads me to wonder…are the pre-existing conditions stories presented to support the bill not really true & a thing of the past? Or is HIPAA not properly enforced?

      1. I think the HIPAA pre-existing clause only applies to employer-based health plans. Small business owners that change plans for themselves are subject to the standard pre-existing condition clauses…according to one person I know.

        Here is what the DOL website says:”Under HIPAA, a plan is allowed to look back only 6 months for a condition that was present before the start of coverage in a group health plan. Specifically, the law says that a preexisting condition exclusion can be imposed on a condition only if medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received during the 6 months prior to your enrollment date in the plan. As an example, you may have had arthritis for many years before you came to your current job. If you did not have medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment – recommended or received – in the 6 months before you enrolled in the plan, then the prior condition cannot be subject to a preexisting condition exclusion. If you did receive medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment within the past 6 months, then the plan may impose a preexisting condition exclusion for that condition (arthritis). In addition, HIPAA prohibits plans from applying a preexisting condition exclusion to pregnancy, genetic information, and certain children.”

        1. I read the same summary you did. And I agree that that part of HIPAA applies to employer-based plans. Those make up the vast majority (upwards of 150 million) of healthcare plans out there so most people are protected from that situation. This means that the pre-existing conditions issue is even less difficult because it would only mean expanding the something that is already fairly widely covered.

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