Why Full Obamacare Repeal May Go Even Worse Than GOP’s Failed Replacement

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It turns out changing the way Americans receive their health care is pretty unpopular, no matter how you try to do it.

That’s the lesson Democrats received in 2010 when they lost their majority in the House after passing Obamacare. Republicans’ effort to reform that system this year have gone even worse, when two consecutive Senate plans never even received a vote.

Plan C (D? Z?) is to pass a more complete repeal of Obamacare without a replacement system. They think this will be easier and less controversial, but they’re in for a surprise.

The main argument against the stillborn reform efforts this year was the Congressional Budget Office score. The government calculator found that while deficits and average premiums would go down over the next 10 years, tens of millions of people would no longer have insurance.

Democrats sprung into attack mode, claiming that millions would die. As a result, support for Obamacare actually eclipsed opposition for the first time ever this year, and the GOP plan had almost as little approval as Congress itself.

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Polling data is one thing, but a harsh CBO report is another. And the CBO has already scored the bill McConnell wants to bring up next to try “full repeal”.

Although they project it would slightly increase economic activity, the CBO estimates that the 2015 bill to repeal without replacing Obamacare would increase deficits by at least $137 billion over 10 years and increase the uninsured population by 24 million to 50 million total without insurance or Medicaid.

Granted, this is actually a 1 million-person improvement over the House replacement plan, which left 51 million uninsured, and but I don’t see Democrats making that concession. Or making the concession that more people would get employer coverage but fewer with individual plans or Medicaid. Or the concession that a significant chunk of those “losing” coverage would just be electing not to purchase it without a federal mandate and tax penalty for doing so.

It’s time to face facts - repealing, replacing, reforming, cutting, trimming, even “fixing” Obamacare is a public relations loser. That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to do; on the contrary. But anything short of leaving it as is or expanding it to national single-payer will be declared a human rights crisis by Democrats. Republicans either need to develop the spine to pass what they actually want and damn the consequences, or just leave it alone.


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