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Don't Try to "Fix" It: Repeal and Replace It

To cite that great Obama sage, Rahm Emanuel, never let a crisis go to waste. Wouldn't it be fine if the biggest government fiasco in decades led to real medical reform? And the reform process didn't stop with the insurance issue?

It was worthwhile suggesting a delay in Obamacare as a way of avoiding the government shutdown in October, but that option (you recall) was vehemently and successfully opposed by the President. Now the President himself wants to "allow" delays. He put the onus on dumbfounded insurers while also sowing confusion among state regulators.

The Upton bill passed by the House with 39 Democratic votes and all but four Republicans is not likely to be adopted by the Senate. However, that may be a good thing, because the problems with Obamacare keep getting more extensive and increasingly look terminal. On the current path, even with a nominal delay, everyone's rates may go up as adjustment costs cascade from the individual market to the employer-provided market. The federal government's costs also are going to rise, a story just now being sniffed out in the press. In short, with the exception of insurance being provided for people with previous conditions, there are almost no winners in this deal.

Furthermore (you probably are reading it here first), there soon could be media interest in revelations abaout the political schemes that were undertaken to pass Obamacare. The public doesn't really appreciate the extent of the wheeling and dealing that went on. First, there were the pacts to buy off the insurance companies. Remember the big pro-Obamacare TV ad campaign they provided in compensation, with fulsome "thank you" publicity for senators and congressmen who backed the bill? Then there were the special waivers--political bailouts--for favored unions and major employers that permitted them to retain advantages that were systematically denied others. As the emails and notes describing these deals come to light, what's in those emails and notes may not be pretty.

Senators Cruz and Lee (backed by Rush Limbaugh and activists such as Richard Viguerie) seem to be correct in opposing mere "fixes" to the present Obamacare program. It probably is past fixing. Some also are advocating long term alternatives, not just a return to the old system, which was a muddle. The alternatives should build on the strengths of the free market. They should allow sale of insurance across state lines. They should put limits on medical litigation. They should bring back Health Savings Accounts and policies that healthy youth want, with catastrophic care and high deductibles and low premiums.

They should permit more streamlined FDA drug approval processes. As Discovery Institute's George Gilder argues in the current Forbes, American medicine is excellent--the best--but the system that delivers it is crippled by regulatory excesses that slow progress and increase costs.

Sally Pipes and our friends at Pacific Research Institute have a policy alternative that combines many useful features. Clark Judge adds some in relation to the drug approval process.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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