Vote to repeal ObamaCare spells doom for House Republicans

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The roll call vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that repeals ObamaCare spells doom for some Republicans, who will be defeated in the 2018 midterm elections, and could well spell doom for Republican control of the House.

It will be fun for Democrats to watch the next round of town meetings of Republican members of Congress that are coming soon. As the House prepares to take a week off from its duties in Congress, members will return home to meet “real people”, who will tell them what they think of the GOP healthcare proposal. It will not be a pretty sight.

{mosads}In reaction to the latest GOP scheme that pretends to take care of citizens with preexisting conditions but in reality will drive their premiums to punishing new heights, voters with preexisting conditions and their families will react with fear and anger against Republicans who seek to impose this financial punishment and medical pain on them.

The Republican members who will pay the most severe political price for what House Democrats will gleefully call “RyanCare” will be those in the 23 congressional districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Political analysts will also be surprised by the damage done to GOP members representing red or purple states with Republican governors and insurance commissioners.

If moderate and center-right Republicans plan on taking credit for the bogus GOP amendment on preexisting conditions, and for putting Medicaid under further GOP attack, they are in for a rude awakening.

Here is what citizens will say to Republican members at town meetings and midterm elections: “ObamaCare was a blessing, and the GOP attack against consumers with preexisting conditions will be a curse on them.”

The GOP scheme is to let states reject the ObamaCare mandate of covering citizens with preexisting conditions and set up, instead, high-risk pools that have historically punished consumers with premiums so high they drove many into bankruptcy. The GOP plan, which is a partial bailout to insurers who will gouge customers battling preexisting conditions, provides only $8 billion over five years to support these customers.

The problem is that most leading healthcare analysts agree that $8 billion over five years is not nearly enough to make up the difference. This will leave customers holding the bag — forced to choose between paying aggressive premium increases the GOP now incentivizes and rewards, or losing their insurance entirely.

Blue-state Democratic leaders will almost certainly continue the Obamacare provision. Red and purple state Republican governors and legislators will almost certainly abandon the Obamacare provision, set up high-risk insurance polls, find premiums in their states being jacked up to punishing heights and face angry voters who will hold them personally accountable at the polls.

On preexisting conditions, drug prices and a host of healthcare issues, the result of a Republican president and GOP-controlled Congress has been to give the most greedy companies a green light to seek short-term profits stemming from the most-aggressive increases in price and reductions of service that they can get away with. And with GOP government they can get away almost anything.

ObamaCare has problems that should be fixed, but the problems stem from the fact that ObamaCare did not go far enough, not that it went too far. That is why public support for the public option usually polls at above 60 percent.

The problem with Republicans on healthcare is that they are trapped by subservience to their base — in the range of 35-38 percent of voters — who hold views that alienate and anger the majority of the nation.

When you see any analyst say how clever it is for Trump and Republicans to rally their base, they don’t understand electoral politics. If the consequence of rallying their 35-percent base is angering most of the other 65 percent of voters, the result is political disaster. This is why generic polling for congressional elections usually shows Democrats holding a strong advantage under the Trump presidency.

There are reasons, which Republicans are ignoring at their peril, that ObamaCare is far more popular than President Trump, the GOP Congress and the ill-fated RyanCare plans. There are reasons that favorable ratings for Obamacare rise with every attempt to repeal or replace it.

Republicans trying to repeal ObamaCare remind me of the timeless words of Jack Nicholson playing a Marine Corps colonel in “A Few Good Men”: They “can’t handle the truth!”

The truth is that on healthcare, government plays a crucial role countering the greed of many companies that gouge customers with punishing prices for insurance and drugs. The truth is also that ObamaCare provides crucial and profound benefits and services that Republicans will pay a heavy price at the polls for trying to destroy.

By the end of this process, Senate Republicans will disown House Republicans who pass a monstrously-bad bill that will be dead on arrival in the Senate. Voters will punish House Republicans who must defend this disastrous and ill-fated bill, force-fed by GOP leaders who are desperate to end their legislative losing streak under a highly-unpopular Republican president.


Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at

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

Tags 115th United States Congress American Health Care Act Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Politics of the United States Republican Party

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