Behind-scenes efforts could end health care reform debacle
The realities of politics and human behavior being what they are, it is time for U.S. senators — and President Donald Trump — to take a break from attempts to reform health insurance. Emotions are running far too high to expect that holding lawmakers’ noses to the grindstone would result in success.
Senate Republican leaders tried several approaches to repealing and replacing “Obamacare” last week. One by one, bills ranging from comprehensive overhauls to piecemeal approaches crashed and burned.
That prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to declare that the Senate would move on to other matters this week.
Trump’s reaction should not have been unexpected. He took his usual approach of verbally pistol-whipping lawmakers and threatening drastic action if they do not try again immediately. “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon,” Trump tweeted.
Soon after former President Barack Obama and liberals then in control on Capitol Hill pushed the Affordable Care Act into law, it became obvious the measure was flawed deeply. Many private insurance companies were losing money on policies “Obamacare” forced them to sell.
So both under the law and outside its provisions, the Obama White House began funneling billions of dollars a year to the companies. It is those subsidies to which Trump referred.
Cutting them off without an “Obamacare” replacement on the books would hurt millions of Americans. Insurance companies would have no choice but to accelerate the process some already have begun, of pulling out of entire regions.
There is no reason to believe the Senate can accomplish anything on “Obamacare” officially during the next couple of weeks. McConnell is right.
Now is the time for quiet behind-the-scenes negotiations that could change minds or, perhaps, lead to acceptable alternatives on reform.