The Hail Mary being undertaken by Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress in a political sprint to crush Obamacare is a longshot of the highest order. Despite the numbers, the industry, AARP, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, Republican governors and senators, and a majority of Americans opposing them, their motto is clearly “Damn the torpedoes.” Their maybe 2% chance of success could mean the end of the Democratic party for the foreseeable future. The 98% likelihood that they will fail could mean the opposite.
The fractures within the Republican party are obvious and growing. The 40 person Conservative Caucus, the last remaining vestiges of the Tea Party, hates the bill. Democrats, mostly by reflex, hate the bill. Himself has not a clue what’s even in it. As has been observed elsewhere, the only chance the bill has of becoming law is speed, to jam it through both houses using whatever political chicanery is available (Ryan and McConnell have that covered) and get it signed before the opposition gets fully organized. And, unfortunately, before the CBO has had a shot at the numbers. With no idea whatsoever of the costs involved, either in human or financial terms.
Listening to Paul Ryan explain the plan yesterday, and having read extensively the SWAG (Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess) numbers being thrown around, my sense is that the bill, in anything resembling its current form, will result in the following:
- ten million families losing health insurance in the first year
- insurance companies running for the doors.
- premium increases of 30-200% over the already-increased rates of 2017.
- “tax credits,” the tool being used to “level the playing field,” becoming the most hated term in Trump’s America, as his base will find them completely insufficient to offset the increases in premium arising from 1) uncertainty, 2) pre-existings, and 3) the lack of a mechanism to get young, healthy people enrolled to offset the costs of the basketcases.
- Those poor unfortunates who find themselves relegated to the “state pool” will quickly discover the nightmare of life therein. Mr. Ryan’s rosy images aside, the state pool is to health insurance what a rusted out 1976 Yugo is to your car.
- While the base watches their healthcare system, and health, deteriorate, they will have the added pleasure of learning about the tax windfall the law provides for the so-called 1%.
- Medicaid getting shoved out onto the states to manage and, eventually, fund, at least in part. Their share is likely to blossom over time.
In a worst case scenario, Congress repeals the ACA and fails to pass ANY replacement legislation. This is where the wheels fall off. This is the point at which a lot of older, poorer Americans will figure out that they’ve been played. For Ryan and his lot, repeal without replacement is unacceptable. Yet they appear to be headed exactly there.
Ryancare, as the new law is doomed to be called, could end up being exactly what the Democrats need to take back the Senate and even things up in the House in 2018. Accordingly, the party may find itself heavily indebted to the recalcitrant Conservative Caucus.
The remnants of the Tea Party remind me of lemmings, joyfully leading their pack over the cliff to their guaranteed destruction. In order to make a point. As a liberal democrat, I gotta say I love these guys. After all, they’re the only thing standing between us and a healthcare debacle, even if they’re doing so for the wrong reasons.