su_note note_color=”#efe1a7″ text_color=”#00000″ radius=”5”]The ‘Freedom Caucus’ that stopped Trumpcare from passing has endorsed a new plan that fails to repeal Obamacare. It would allow the states to opt out of the federal requirement to cover pre-existing conditions and mandated services. This may look like a step forward, but the entire structure and its megalithic bureaucracy remain in place, and this opt-out feature easily can be restored in the future when public interest becomes diverted to other issues. –GEG [/su_note]
On Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus endorsed a new version of Obamacare quasi-repeal in the House that would give states the freedom to opt out of federal insurance regulations forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and mandated services. The states must pledge that the changes will either reduce prices or increase coverage.
“While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare,” the House Freedom Caucus said in a press release, “we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to improve the bill.”
That seems to be the consensus: conservatives are willing to hold their noses and back this version of Trumpcare. Club for Growth President David McIntire said, “While we’re still short of full repeal, this latest agreement would give states the chance to opt out of some of Obamacare’s costliest regulations, opening the way to greater choice and lower insurance premiums.”
In other words, this may be the best conservatives can get.
If so, it’s not very much.
There is a basic problem with this version of Obamacare repeal: it doesn’t repeal Obamacare. It leaves regulations in place on the federal level with regard to insurance companies; the state opt-out merely puts the ball in the court of the states to opt out of Obamacare. But this reverses the federalism polarity: normally, the federal government does not get to participate in a cramdown of federal policy, giving states the option of cancelling it. Instead, the federal government does not get to occupy an area, and states have the obligation to fill it if they so choose.
Here’s why this matters: it’s actually just Congress kicking the can down the road. Now Congress doesn’t have to take the blame for killing the pre-existing conditions and mandated services provisions of Obamacare – they can blame states for doing so. They get to join with Obama in saying they cared about such issues, but those cruel state Republicans wouldn’t get on board. That’s why Congressional moderates could vote for the proposal. But how many governors are actually going to take responsibility for killing the most popular provisions of Obamacare, even if it lowers cost – particularly while the rest of the Obamacare repeal cuts the amount of Medicaid to the states, turning it into a block grant program rather than a need-based program?