In case you'd missed it last week, prior to the press shifting its collective attention to suddenly caring about crowd sizes again, there was a New Narrative a-brewin'. Namely, that Obamacare's popularity is suddenly on the rise, and that Republican efforts to uproot it have become a political liability. It's undoubtedly true that implementing a complex operation that again scrambles the healthcare status quo will be a challenging lift, especially with Democrats digging in their heels against any viable alternative proposal. Some of the power dynamics will be tricky, and will require unity of purpose and strong messaging from the GOP -- which longtime observers of the party know is hardly a given. But the notion that Republicans ought to cower in the face of the law's newfound popularity is preposterous. NBC trumpeted its survey showing Obamacare enjoying as much public backing as ever, with 45 percent saying that passing the law was a good idea overall. But a CNN poll found massive support for repealing it:
Approximately four out of five respondents favor ending the law, with just 22 percent outright opposing repeal. CNN's headline? "Poll shows last minute love for Obamacare." Even cherry-picking the most positive finding in the survey produces a roughly even split on the law's favorability. "Love!" But as the tweet above notes, 76 percent of the country believes the new Republican government should get rid of it, with one-fifth supporting repeal even without any replacement (though a majority justifiably wants a substitute measure). The poll also finds that almost one-third of American families have been harmed by the law, a significantly higher percentage than those who say they've been helped by it. This has been a consistent phenomenon over the years. As we've noted before, as Obamacare slowly spirals down the drain -- and especially if Democrats' alleged "fixes" were to gain traction -- the substantial majority that still says it has been unaffected by the law will increasingly experience Obamacare-related pain. Its flaws are getting worse. Its negative reach is expanding. Nevertheless, defenders of the failing status quo are waving around a Congressional Budget Office report detailing how Republicans' Obamacare repeal bill from last year would have increased premiums and left millions newly uncovered. The GOP plans to use the same reconciliation strategy in 2017, so isn't this shaping up to be a PR disaster? Not exactly. Allahpundit does a nice job of calmly explaining why Republicans are rightly shrugging off that data:
The 2015 bill called for repealing the individual (and employer) mandate immediately and then, within two years, eliminating subsidies for consumers on the exchanges as well as the Medicaid expansion provisions. However, it kept the regulations requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions in place. Put all of that together and you don’t need CBO bean-counters to tell you what the likely effect would be...The 2015 repeal bill had no hope of passing, of course. It was destined for an Obama veto, as all repeal bills have been since the GOP reclaimed control of Congress. It was a political document, designed to show the public the things the GOP liked (yay, coverage for preexisting conditions!) and didn’t like (boo, mandates!). The new Trump-era repeal bill will be forced to grapple much more seriously with how to generate revenue for insurers if coverage for preexisting conditions is going to remain in place, which is to say, the next repeal bill will come bundled with either a replacement for ObamaCare on day one — as Trump has said he’d prefer — or the promise of a replacement within two years (“repeal and delay”).
Precisely. That scoring assumed Obamacare's pay-fors and mandates disappear, with all of Obamacare's regulations still intact. Of course that's unsustainable. Here's Ryan and McConnell's waive of the hand:
The 2016 bill that CBO analyzed did not replace Obama’s law with a GOP alternative, which Republicans have insisted will be an integral part of their health care drive this year. Because of that omission, Donald Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the report “assumes a situation that simply doesn’t exist and that no one in Congress advocates.” AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the estimates “meaningless” because they ignored plans for legislation and regulatory actions by the incoming Trump administration aimed at revamping how people could obtain coverage.
Incidentally, Congressional Republicans seem to have rallied to Trump's politically shrewd calculation (shared by folks like Rand Paul) that repeal and replace bills need to be introduced and advanced simultaneously. The phasing-out of the current arrangement can still happen gradually, as to not pull the rug out from under people, but the flawed, full-blown "repeal and delay" strategy does appear to have been abandoned. I'll leave you with this nugget. Hmmm:
If true, why would such a smart and qualified guy who Trump has tapped to run HHS be cut out of the loop? Speaking of whom, if you've caught any of the hysterical headlines about Price's supposed ethics issues, read this and this. If that's all they've got on him, it's pretty thin gruel.