Editorial: GOP leaders must forge a bipartisan plan

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the GOP leadership in Congress has failed on their major campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

And it’s not looking good politically for them. Even ardent GOP supporters like Club for Growth and leaders of the party like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, have not minced words about the failure.

The conservative interest group Club for Growth chided the GOP Senate leadership and Senate members for hypocrisy when they couldn’t muster enough votes to even begin debate on their repeal and replace bill. Paul admonished them to go back to their districts and face the music for breaking their promise.

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Club for Growth President David McIntosh didn’t hold back on his criticism. “It was easy for moderate Republicans to grandstand and regurgitate fiery political rhetoric when they knew repeal efforts would go nowhere. But now they will have to do something politicians don’t often do. And that is keep their promises.”

Texas entrepreneur Robert Dean, who was held up as a victim of Obamacare because his premiums were $1,100 per month, told the CNHI News Service after the failed GOP vote that “Now the gridlock is owned by the Republicans.”

Democrats aren’t saying much because they don’t have to. The Republican coalition, if there ever was one, is imploding and the GOP Congressional leadership as well as the White House run the real risk for being thrown out by those who elected them.

Some of those Republicans have realized the impact on their constituents of repealing Obamacare outright. Democrats have for many months acknowledged the Affordable Care Act has problems and have said they are willing to work with Republicans to fix that. Their sincerity will be tested in the weeks ahead.

Congress must pass bipartisan reform legislation with some urgency. Health insurance companies are saying the current environment creates uncertainty and this will force them to raise rates by double digits in some cases when open enrollment starts in a few months.

First, Congress and the Trump administration have to reassure insurance markets that the subsidies to insurance companies to help cover consumers out of pocket costs will continue. These payments will continue unless the Trump administration stops them.

Next, there must be a bipartisan working group in the Senate to forge a sensible reform plan that deals with how to subsidize a system to spread the risk without causing premiums to skyrocket. The bipartisan group needs to figure out how to create an incentive for young and healthy people to buy insurance to help spread the risk of insuring sick people.

The bipartisan group must attack costs in the health care system, including first and foremost repealing the law that doesn’t allow the government to negotiate prescription drug prices for its public programs.

The reform plan should also include some carrots — and some sticks — to encourage health care providers to improve quality and lower cost.

Because Republicans control all three branches of government, they must lead these efforts. This is not the time for more partisan point games. President Donald Trump has tried to deflect and pivot the GOP failure on Democrats. But most people are not fooled by this. They will blame Republicans and it’s their responsibility to either be willing to push people off health insurance or reform the system to work for all Americans.

We urge the Republican leadership to consider this equation seriously, take the lead and get this done in a bipartisan way.

— Mankato Free Press, July 20

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