All Sections

Home  Columns

Deroy Murdock: Unraveling Obama's failed, miserable legacy program

September 21. 2017 6:53PM

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks as Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., listen during a news conference on health care on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

THE LAST TRAIN is leaving Reconciliation Station.

Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare — derailed just weeks ago — now seem back on track. GOP senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy M.D. of Louisiana, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin seek 47 more votes to pass their legislation within the Senate’s filibuster-proof reconciliation window. It closes Sept. 30. Having snored through August, Republicans are scrambling to keep the repeal/replacement pledges that secured them the House, Senate, and White House.

The GCHJ bill would convert Obamacare from an imploding, top-down, Washington-centric, mandate-entangled madhouse into something promising: federal dollars that governors and legislators could use to finance bespoke solutions that fit each state’s priorities. While hardly the stuff of Adam Smith, this reflects the Founding Fathers’ locally oriented federalist vision. Though still a government program, GCHJ would end Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, kill the absurd and cruel medical-device tax, and let states reject Obamacare’s “essential health benefits.” These surreal rules force teetotalers on Obamacare to purchase alcoholism-treatment coverage. Likewise, childless Obamacare policy holders must carry pediatric vision and dental benefits for kids who do not exist. Why not require gay men on Obamacare to buy vasectomy insurance? GCHJ would let states rescue their residents from such expensive and indefensible Obamite nonsense.

The reliably pro-market Senator Johnson’s co-sponsorship should ease worries that GCHJ is just “Obamacare Lite,” as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., condemns it.

“Obamacare continues to collapse, and we have no choice but to address this problem head on,” Johnson said last week. “Returning more health care decisions to the states…will allow local leaders to tailor their health care system to the needs of its citizens while maintaining protections for those with high-cost and pre-existing conditions.”

GCHJ’s prospects climbed Tuesday, when 15 Republican governors — including conservative reformers Matt Bevin of Kentucky, Eric Greitens of Missouri, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — endorsed it.

“Welfare reform passed in the 1990s works because states were given maximum authority along with adequate funding,” these executives wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “Adequately funded, flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Five GOP governors oppose GCHJ. These include New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Ohio’s John Kasich, and Nevada’s Brian Sandoval — all of whom betrayed their initial, conservative billing. Kasich inhaled Obama’s free samples of Medicaid-expansion money. Now, he craves it like a junkie.

Among conservative public-policy experts, reactions to GCHJ range from cold shoulder to warm embrace.

“It may pass and there are some good things in it, but the Medicaid expansion does not end till 2020,” laments Pacific Research Institute President Sally Pipes. Further, she wrote in a Fortune piece, “Blue states are unlikely to ever request waivers. So their residents will be stuck dealing with Obamacare’s high costs and limited choices in perpetuity.”

“I generally like it (there are a lot of good provisions in the bill) with a guardrail: any person getting a federal subsidy under the legislation should have the option to enroll in a private plan — of their choice — in the private market,” explains Heritage Foundation senior fellow Robert Moffit. “State officials often shove people into government-centric plans, a la CHIP or Medicaid managed-care plans. That should not be allowed to happen here. If that crucial protection can be established in the legislation, we have a down-payment on health reform.”

So, will Republicans splinter anew or coalesce before Sept. 30? Only one thing is certain in coming days: Suspense will mount as debate and negotiations intensify.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor and a contributing editor with National Review Online. He has collaborated for decades with many of the organizations cited in this opinion piece.

General News Health Politics

Newsletter Signup