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The Path to Obamacare Repeal Is Simple—Don’t Let ACA Centerpiece Get in the Way

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Republicans are running out of time. The U.S. Senate must act soon to repeal every word of Obamacare. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) told The Hill, “We could repeal all of Obamacare … I just don’t buy the fact that we can’t do that.” I agree.

The path to repeal is simple. In 2010, Democrats used their majority power to pass Obamacare. Now Republicans must use their majority power to repeal it. Republicans should not dither. If Obamacare is not ripped out by its roots, the future of health freedom is dim.

Republicans are in power today because they promised to repeal Obamacare, not replace it with a Republican version of the law. Repeal was the rallying cry. So now, with Republicans in full control, why not just repeal the law? Why are 13 Republican Senators discussing how to restructure Obamacare rather than repeal it?

Look no further than the issue of pre-existing conditions.

Liberals claim people with pre-existing conditions will be left to fend for themselves if Obamacare is repealed. They say 127 million individuals with pre-existing conditions will be at risk of life and limb. But states and charity programs took care of these individuals long before Obamacare. Most are already covered by employers and government programs. Just 226,615people enrolled in state high-risk pools before Obamacare, and only 115,000 joined the Obamacare Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program.

This line of attack is strategic. “Guaranteed issue” of coverage regardless of health status is the heart and soul of Obamacare. It’s the core value of universal coverage, socialized medicine, national healthcare, single-payer or whatever you want to call the government takeover of health care. Guaranteed issue is not insurance. It’s government-mandated third-party payment of government-approved medical expenses.

To save Obamacare, liberals have falsely claimed the moral high ground. Ending guaranteed issue, they say, is tantamount to letting people die on the streets. Thus far, Republicans have failed to mount the necessary moral offense to counter this attack.

It may seem compassionate, but there is nothing moral about forcing Americans to pay higher premiums to cover the medical bills of the uninsured and uninsurable. There is nothing moral about making health insurance so expensive that the people buying it can’t afford to get sick. There is nothing moral about forcing people to pay more than their home mortgage for a product they may never use. There is nothing moral about destroying the world’s greatest health care system to chase a socialist dream.

Republicans must change the debate—or we can kiss health freedom, patient choice and medical excellence goodbye.

Here are two places to start:

First, concentrate on care, not coverage. Patients are the only reason there’s a health care system. Focusing on coverage leads to only one place—national healthcare. And, increasingly, coverage does not guarantee access to care. People buy insurance so they can receive care without financial ruin. Republicans must work to reduce the cost of care, whether funded by cash, check, charge, coverage or charity. Republicans should open markets, rescind regulations, break up managed-care cartels, reward charity and restore the right to buy affordable major medical insurance.

Americans are smart. According to a Cato survey, 77 percent of Americans support guaranteed issue of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions—until they learn it could harm quality of care. Support then plummets to just 20 percent. Harm is already happening. Americans have higher costs, fewer choices and less access.

Republicans must declare this painful truth without reservation.

Second, Republicans should work to end the pre-existing condition problem altogether. Most individuals are tagged with a pre-existing condition after they lose employer-sponsored coverage or age out of a family policy. After repealing Obamacare, including its §1302(e) prohibition on catastrophic coverage, Congress could offer tax incentives to major medical indemnity insurers to help them reclaim market share from Obamacare-favored managed care corporations. Congress could also change tax law to encourage individual purchase of insurance, including pre-birth purchases by parents for each child. Insurance policies should be individualized, portable, affordable, lifelong, not attached to employment and personally owned.

Americans don’t need guaranteed issue, and they don’t want Obamacare. They need affordable insurance and access to affordable care. Repeal the law.

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