ATLANTA -- From my Skype-seat at the White House briefing room on March 16, 2017, I asked this question: "Many conservatives are worried that President Trump is being led by Speaker Ryan down the wrong path toward health care reform. Please respond to that."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that "Trump is not going to be led down a path by anyone."
I beg to differ. I believe Trump has been convinced that the congressional Republicans’ plan is the best option that can pass the House and the Senate.
There are four main problems with this proposed health care law.
First, while the federal government may save between $300-400 billion over the next few years if the law is enacted, the burden will shift to the states to pick up a bigger cost for Medicaid funding. The individual states don't have the power of the printing press as does the federal government and this burden will be more strenuous on the citizens as a result.
Second, I don’t believe in the Obamacare subsidies and I still don't believe in healthcare tax credits. If someone wants a healthcare tax credit, that should be done exclusively through health savings account. Otherwise, it doesn't matter what you call it. A tax credit is still a de facto government handout that requires one class of American citizens to pay (or sacrifice) for the healthcare of another.
Third, there should be two healthcare systems. The first should be the private market where individuals and families pay for their own health care because they can afford it. For the people who are not fortunate enough to afford health insurance premiums, we should expand Medicaid to make sure that everyone has access to coverage. In that case their monthly premium payments should be based on a means test.
If someone is receiving the same healthcare at a significant discount (via tax credit or subsidy) as someone who is paying the full amount out of their own pocket, the former is likely to abuse that system.
Finally, healthcare costs will not go down under the congressional Republicans' plan. In fact, I believe that healthcare costs will continue to rise no matter what President Trump and the Republicans do. The truth that the American people need to hear is that the best lawmakers can possibly do is decelerate the rising cost of healthcare premiums in the near future.
This past week, Georgia Sen. Purdue commented that he believes Republicans might be best served to "slow down." In government, it's commonplace that elected officials and bureaucrats love checking boxes.
New healthcare plan complete: "check!"
While I do think the Republicans’ plan is far better than Obamacare it still leaves a lot to be desired.
If a family is paying $1,000 per month for health insurance, another family should not get the same insurance through tax credits for several hundred dollars less. America is built on the premise that you have to earn premium benefits or sacrifice those desires and needs until you do.
Without the ‘carrot at the end of the stick’ there is nothing to create drive and discipline.
I do believe we have a social and moral responsibility to provide healthcare options to people with limited income resources so that everyone can receive quality care and preventative treatment.
In many cases, giving unearned access to premium healthcare options leads to excessive emergency room visits, unnecessary doctor visits and abuse of access to prescription drugs.
The private market generally competes for business from individuals who can afford to pay a premium for better quality and thus are more responsible with their use of it.
While many may charge this viewpoint as elitist, it's quite the contrary. I'm simply saying that until someone exhibits the discipline, personal responsibility and perseverance to 'earn' the best money can buy they shouldn't be given unfettered access through subsidy or tax credit.
Speaker Ryan, alone, may not be leading President Trump down the wrong path toward healthcare reform, but he may be clouding better options. There’s likely a much better path that saves his political capital and provides the American public with a much better healthcare system.