Obamacare may be here to stay

Published 7:05 pm Saturday, March 25, 2017

Is Obamacare here to stay? It looks that way after Republicans couldn’t agree on a health care overhaul plan to replace it.

The bill that was pulled Friday was a mess. Some conservatives didn’t think it did enough to get rid of Obamacare. Some thought it did too much. Almost no one was happy with it, yet President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan kept pushing for a vote.

Only when it was crystal clear that defeat was imminent was the bill pulled.

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The problem, it seems, was that what Trump promised and what legislators had in mind were not the same thing. Back in January, Trump said, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”

That didn’t jive with what some conservatives were hoping to accomplish. Some legislators don’t want government in the health insurance business at all.

Trump also promised that people “can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better … lower numbers, much lower deductibles.”

Trump told people what they wanted to hear, not what was realistic. It worked to get him elected, but it’s making governing difficult.

In its final form, the bill was expected to insure at least 14 million fewer people in its first year. That’s good news or bad news depending on your viewpoint.

Some of Trump’s supporters in poor, rural areas were able to get insurance for the first time under Obamacare. Taking that away was bound to be a dangerous prospect.

Obamacare is a complicated beast, and undoing it will be complicated work. It doesn’t appear Trump put in the work to understand what was realistic and what wasn’t. He certainly doesn’t appear to have the pull that he thought. He pushed for passage of the bill but couldn’t convince enough Republicans to support it.

Oddly, those most opposed to the bill were upset because it didn’t do enough to get rid of Obamacare. It wasn’t conservative enough for them.

But why give up? Republicans were quick to move on from the defeat, with Trump saying he would turn his attention to tax reform. Republicans have campaigned on repealing Obamacare for years. It seems odd that they would so quickly give up what has been their No. 1 campaign issue. 

As counter-intuitive as it would seem, they may have been trying to fail all along. Based on Trump’s comments throughout the campaign and early in his presidency, it doesn’t appear he was serious about kicking people off Obamacare. “Insurance for everybody” isn’t exactly the argument Republicans have been making when it comes to health care.

It also seems odd that Ryan wasn’t able to craft a bill that would get more support. He’s a smart guy and policy is supposedly his bread and butter. So why present a bill that just about everyone hates? Maybe they had no plans on passing it to start with.

Maybe the last week of negotiations was just a show.  If so, Trump — the master of show — put on a good one.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.