According to the New York Times:
“Guys, we’ve got one shot here,” [President Trump] told members of the Freedom Caucus at a meeting in the Cabinet Room, according to a person present in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was private. “This is it — we’re voting now.”
They were unconvinced.
And they are right. To view this as the only chance to repeal and replace Obamacare is shortsighted.
First, if the American Health Care Act — a.k.a. RINOcare — fails, will the Obamacare exchanges suddenly come back to life? Perhaps the folks at Humana will reconsider their decision to leave the exchanges in 2018, but don’t bet money on it.
Even more unlikely is that UnitedHealth, Aetna, or BlueCross BlueShield will jump back into the exchanges. The exchanges are stuck in a death spiral, and as they continue to deteriorate, the pressure to repeal Obamacare will only grow.
Next, to suggest that this is the only chance we will have is akin to Donald Trump saying to his campaign staff back in late January 2016, “Well, the Iowa Caucus is our one shot. We don’t win this and I don’t win the nomination.” That attitude would have been shortsighted then, and it is even more so now. The GOP nomination has a set schedule. Transforming an idea into law does not.
The political Right would do well to approach health care the same way the political Left did. The Left has wanted some form of government-run health insurance since the early 20th century. They failed to get it under Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Yet they kept coming back again and again until they got most of what they wanted under President Obama.
If the Right wants liberty in health care, then it must try again and again and again and again, if necessary. Liberty is seldom lost in one fell swoop, and it is seldom regained that way either.
But if RINOcare passes as is, it will make the health care system worse. When it does, Republicans will lose a great deal of credibility. Given that much of the public associates free markets with Republicans, the free-market approach to health care will be severely damaged as well. That will make it harder for the Right to push for health care freedom in the future.
So let RINOcare die. There will always be an opportunity to come up with a better bill and try again.