The GOP needs to recover its credibility and repeal ObamaCare
© Getty

Congress returns from its August recess on Sept. 5 and it will have about 50 days in session to recover its credibility and deal a decisive blow to the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate and the House essentially put the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare on ice before they left on a not-very-well deserved vacation and we can only hope that the ice melted during the dog days of summer.

ADVERTISEMENT
There’s plenty of blame to share for the fiasco that evolved over the first seven months of 2017, and Senate GOP boss Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) claims that the way ahead is unclear. But, I think that it’s pretty darn clear: either the Republicans in Congress keep their promises or there’ll be hell to pay come the mid-term elections. And, that does not bode well for the party or the nation.

 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.) has already begun to suggest, yet again, that single-payer, government-controlled healthcare is the only way out of the mess we are in. And, he’s got others, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Grassley: 'Good chance' Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: GOP plans to unveil tax framework in late September | Critical stretch for Trump tax team | Equifax CEO called to testify | Sanders unveils single-payer bill MORE (D-N.J.) speaking out loudly in support of single-payer based healthcare.

Of course, Republicans can easily block any such move — at least for the time being. But they’ll just bide their time until they regain control of Congress and the White House or until the current Congress and White House put together an iron clad alternative.

We very recently got a glimpse of what a single-payer system has to offer when a British court insisted that an infant suffering from a rare brain disorder in a London hospital be denied the right to travel to the U.S. for treatment. Instead, the court demanded that doctors pull the plug on the baby’s life support system despite heart-rending pleas from the child’s parents to let them try to save him. This, even though the parents were prepared to pay the costs of a trip to New York for treatment so there would have been no cost to the British healthcare system.

The House did pass repeal and replace legislation and the Senate ultimately decided to push for what it called a “skinny repeal.” But that didn’t pass when Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz.) cast a deciding vote against passage. McConnell now says that Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Corker pressed as reelection challenges mount Overnight Health Care: CBO predicts 15 percent ObamaCare premium hike | Trump calls Sanders single-payer plan ‘curse on the US’ | Republican seeks score of Sanders’s bill MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Policymaking commission offers a glimmer of hope in hyper-partisan Washington Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (D-Wash.) are in negotiations to find a partial pathway out of the muddle.

Alexander, who is Chairman of the Senate's Healthcare Committee, and Murray, who is the ranking member, say they will hold hearings when they come back from the recess to seek a bipartisan solution. But, Alexander doesn’t sound very optimistic that a deal can be reached. He says that the Democrats are not interested in tampering in any way with ObamaCare.

All the Democrats want to do is throw more money at the problem. I don’t see why Congress doesn’t build a free-market solution around the notion of an expanded Health Savings Account (HSA) proposal. An expanded, tax-free HSA makes good sense and goes a long way toward keeping government out of doctor/patient relationships. There would also be less confusion among users who could have professional, independent agents to help them roll over insurance plans into their HSAs in a seamless manner. 

Under ObamaCare most people have co-pays and very high deductibles for medical services in addition to high premiums. Under an HSA-based solution, premiums could be paid through an individual’s tax free HSA.  In addition, it could provide for visits to local doctors with no additional costs and all deductibles would be paid with pre-tax dollars out of the savings portion of the HSA.

Low-income individuals and families would be covered under the HSA utilizing government subsidies. The difference between their coverage under ObamaCare and their coverage under the HSA is that they would not have any copays and they would have funds they can use for deductibles.

As for those who cannot even afford minimal coverage, such a plan could offer pro bono care under which doctors and nurse practitioners would provide healthcare services free of charge in exchange for tax deductions.

Dan Weber is the president of the Association of Mature American, which is a senior advocacy group that was set up as a conservative alternative to the AARP.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.