The Stupid Party On Health Care Acts Stupidly

Derek Hunter
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Posted: Jun 18, 2015 12:01 AM
The Stupid Party On Health Care Acts Stupidly

Congress passed Obamacare, and the president signed it. But in spite of then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s promise, we still don’t know exactly what’s in it. We’re finding out, slowly, but it’s rarely good news.

Obamacare was sold as the “fix” for our “broken health care system.” We were told the impact on those happy with their then current situation would barely notice a change, and those without insurance would get it. A win-win for everyone, right?

Those promises went out the window right behind the $2,500 average savings on premiums per family President Barack Obama said would be coming our way.

Prices are up, doctors are refusing new patients or retiring, and the Obama administration touts roughly the same number of “voluntary” sign-ups as people who the law caused to lose their insurance in the first place. With tens of millions of Americans still without insurance, you have to ask yourself, “What was the point?”

The point, of course, was more government control over more people. The federal government now sets the standards which health insurance plans must meet in order to be legally sold in this country. Aside from some payoffs to Democratic Party special interest groups and political donors, there weren’t many “winners” in the new law.

And while we await the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of subsidies paid in states that refused to expand Medicaid to non-poor citizens, the prospects for the future of our health system don’t look any better.

You’d think this would be a golden opportunity for Republicans to step up and offer a bold vision, a free-market vision for total repeal and replacement. But they haven’t. In fact, they haven’t done much of anything. In between internal squabbling over what to do, what to offer, and how to do it, they’ve only offered tiny chips away at the Great Pyramid of Giza sized stone that is the problem.

Rather than talking big-picture issues and offering a new direction while selling it to the public, Republicans are, well, being Republicans on the issue of health care.

What I was working on health policy at the Heritage Foundation, my boss told me that on the issue, “Democrats are evil, and Republicans are stupid.” Democrats always want more government, no matter how bad the outcome was. Republicans simply hoped to avoid the issue altogether, leaving vision to a select few who worked on it extensively.

The problem with that is you end up with a few people coming up with plans that are varying degrees of good, or at least better, and then the rest weigh in on those with their own pet ideas or thoughts. Those uninformed ideas are generally awful, so they don’t get included, and the whole idea gets shelved because egos get bruised in the process. Like I said, “stupid.”

One stupid idea is cutting back a program called 340B.

Aside from a name only government could assign, it assists rural and poor hospitals and pharmacies in providing expensive drugs to patients who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It’s supposedly revenue neutral, but even if it weren’t, the government is spending trillions over the next few years on health care, so a couple billion over that time is a drop in the bucket that catches the drops falling out of other buckets.

Does it need to be changed? Yes. It, like every other government program, has expanded beyond what it was supposed to be. But for Republicans to think this program, this area, is where to take a stand shows they’re still the stupid party.

Why on God’s green earth would Republicans think targeting a program that helps a large percentage of their voter base (rural) and the people they are routinely accused of hating (the poor) is a good idea? What victory comes from hurting patients and hospitals in areas where hospitals are closing down under strain from the larger Obamacare law?

On the chart of things to address in the health care field, the obscure 340B program falls just under the transmission of toenail fungus in importance to reform and money saving. Why not start big and work to small, rather than the other way around? It wasn’t an ice cube that took down the Titanic, it was the iceberg. Obamacare is a giant iceberg, Medicare is another, as is Medicaid and Social Security.

While we steam toward bankruptcy, Republicans are focusing on loose change under couch cushions. Voters aren’t interested in leaders who offer insignificant changes to a program most of them have never heard of while their costs are skyrocketing. It would be nice if Republicans, for once, stopped being the stupid party on health care.