Friday, December 13, 2013

Again: No conservative healthcare ideas

By Frank Moraes

Ezra Klein seems to have gotten everyone all talking about how Republicans are suddenly against high deductible healthcare plans,Obamacare Exposes Republican Hypocrisy on Health Care. You see, in the old days (last week), Republicans said, "We need high deductible plans that people can afford but also put the onus on them to manage their healthcare. They've been saying this fordecades. This is where those lauded health savings accounts come in. This was a great thing to complain about! Obamacare was stopping the market from working it's magic!

There was one small problem. And from a Republican standpoint, it wasn't a problem at all. Obamacare didn't have anything to say about cheap, high deductible insurance plans. Remember: Obamacare is the the conservative "free market" approach to healthcare reform. So the Republicans turn the "problem" into an "opportunity." They turned on a dime and started shouting, "Obamacare is killing people with these high deductible insurance plans!" Ezra Klein calls this hypocrisy.

Jonathan Chait calls it, The Heritage Uncertainty Principle. You can go over and read his article, if you want. But this is what I've been writing about for years. Let's start with the facts: Republicans do not want any healthcare reform. So when the Republicans turned against Obamacare, even though it was their very own healthcare reform policy, they weren't being hypocritical. Chait quotes Newt Gingrich saying, "[I]t started as a conservative effort to stop HillaryCare in the 1990s." And that's what I've been saying: any Republican healthcare "idea" is only one they support so long as it isn't up for consideration.

My father came to me the other day asking me about this new healthcare reform law by Georgia Representative Tom Price. He saw it on Fox News, but given that everyone was so positive about it, he smelled a rat. Dad's starting to wake up. Anyway, I didn't know what the proposal was, but I explained to him that the Republicans had plenty of chances to change Obamacare along the way and they have never taken one. So I was pretty sure this was just a way to kill Obamacare and replace it with the usual Republican policy wish list.

I looked it up, and I was right. What does it do? It allows people to buy insurance across state lines. Then it will enact "tort reform." And it would have "high risk pools." I discuss all of this in, Republicans New Healthcare Distraction. So the new healthcare reform bill that Fox News was all excited about was the same old healthcare reform bill that Republicans always bring up.

Now in this regard, Jonathan Chait is wrong. If the Democrats went along with tort "reform," the Republicans would not turn their backs on it. This is something that the Republicans really want. It wouldn't improve healthcare or access to it. But it would make the rich richer and poor poorer and the Republicans are always for that! But in general, he is correct. Conservative healthcare reform ideas are just a means by which actual healthcare reform ideas are destroyed. And we are living through that right now: Obamacare is a healthcare law that was created (as Gingrich admitted) only to stop a more liberal law.

But Ezra Klein is right too. The Republicans are hypocrites. But not in the way that he means. They are hypocrites when they say they really want healthcare reform. They don't. If they would stop lying about that, the rest would just be very honest political tactics. But you may well ask, are the Republicans really that evil. Yes. Yes they are.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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