America cannot afford a GOP retreat in the war on ObamaCare

America cannot afford a GOP retreat in the war on ObamaCare
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With at least four GOP senators announcing their opposition to Graham-Cassidy, the Senate’s latest effort to repeal ObamaCare is doomed. Again.

That the GOP would find themselves here in September was unthinkable in January. The fact that they are speaks volumes about the ineffectiveness of congressional leadership, particularly in the Senate, as well as the shamelessness of a handful of members of Congress who had no qualms about supporting repeal when it was guaranteed a veto, but who take to their fainting couches over an actual legitimate effort to do so.

All of these factors, plus a fictional deadline, have created the narrative that this is the GOP’s last chance to repeal ObamaCare.

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It cannot be, and should not be.

 

Republicans simply cannot abandon their nearly decade-long promise to repeal ObamaCare. Doing so would diminish the party's remaining credibility, a good bit of which has already squandered by waiting this long to address the issue. There’s a reason that 53 percent of Republican voters called ObamaCare repeal “an extremely important priority,” rating it higher than any other issue polled.

This is particularly true when considering how Republicans have been rewarded for their staunch opposition to ObamaCare. (Since ObamaCare’s passage in 2010, the GOP voted close to 50 times for its repeal.) Eight years under President Obama have left the GOP stronger than any time since the 1920s. Over 1,000 Democrats in every level of government have been replaced by Republicans, leaving the party in their deepest electoral rut since 1946.

If the GOP waves the white flag on ObamaCare repeal, no one should be surprised when voters turn on them.

ObamaCare’s worsening performance adds urgency to the GOP’s efforts. As a whole, ObamaCare is a policy failure. Though some are better off through the inducements of the government to obtain insurance, and the billions of dollars in subsidies to pay for it, many more have been hurt by it.

Despite repeated promises by Democrats that ObamaCare would reduce the typical family’s insurance premiums by $2,500 a year, just the opposite has happened. Double, sometimes triple digit premium increases are now the norm. In Arizona, premiums have gone up 116 percent. In Oklahoma, rates have risen by 69 percent. Few states have been untouched — overall, the average premium increase before subsidies was 25 percent.

Even with the increase in subsidies, insurance companies are struggling to stay in the marketplace. Forget about consumer choice providing options or competition lowering prices. Nineteen of ObamaCare’s 23 highly lauded co-ops have failed. In at least five states, only one insurer remains on the ObamaCare exchanges. By next year, many places won’t have any insurance options at all.

The cost of care itself, rather than becoming more affordable, has also risen. The average deductible for ObamaCare’s cheapest plans now costs over $6,000 for individuals, and over $12,000 for families. When 63 percent of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit, it’s easy to see how ObamaCare has put quality medical care out of reach for families struggling to make ends meet.

Ultimately, ObamaCare has failed in its key mission — to make Americans healthier. Emergency room use has actually increased. Medicaid services to the disabled have been cut or severely delayed as ObamaCare directs resources to able-bodied individuals. Those with serious diseases are now struggling to find care and coverage. ObamaCare has even failed to prevent the U.S. death rate from rising for the first time in a decade.

The GOP cannot stop until they repeal ObamaCare — to keep their promises, yes, but also to remove the burden of a failed law. Repeal is the first step toward creating a healthcare marketplace that allows access, choice, and competition for everyone.

Some senators — including Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) — have made encouraging comments about keeping the repeal fight alive. The rest of the conference, and the leadership, should take heed.

The longer the GOP waits, the sooner they — not the Democrats — will own ObamaCare’s failures.

Rachel Bovard (@RachelBovard) is the senior director of policy for The Conservative Partnership, a nonprofit group headed by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint aimed at promoting limited government.