Republicans Are Afraid to Let Americans See Their Health Care Plan

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Aside from whatever Donald Trump happens to be tweeting about, the biggest topic in DC right now is this:

Republicans finally have the power to repeal Obamacare, but they’re still not sure how

That’s Noam Levey at the Los Angeles Times:

In Washington, Republicans are also struggling to figure out what to do with Obamacare insurance marketplaces that Republicans worked for years to dismantle. In a reversal, GOP leaders now are trying to figure out how to prevent their collapse, which would jeopardize coverage for millions more Americans.

Insurance experts, including leading industry officials, have repeatedly warned Republicans over the past several months that repealing the health law without a replacement risks destabilizing insurance markets and will push many insurers to simply stop selling health plans.

J.B. Silvers, a former health insurance CEO, explains the danger of “repeal and delay” in more detail:

Some in Congress seem to think that passing the “repeal” part immediately but delaying its implementation for two or three years will somehow leave everything as it is now. But this naive notion misses the fact that the riskiness of the Obamacare individual insurance exchange markets will have been ramped up to such a level that continuing makes no sense.

Even if a company reaches break-even in the “delay” years, it will lose when the repeal is effective. If the premium subsidies now available to lower-income enrollees go away immediately and the mandate to sign up for an insurance plan disappears, then the number of people purchasing individual policies on the exchanges will drop like a rock. In fact, it is clear that even debating this scenario is likely to be self-fulfilling, since insurers must decide on their participation for 2018 by the late spring of 2017. Look for many to leave then.

Insurers are participating in the exchanges because they hope to make steady profits once the early problems are worked out. But if there’s no future for the exchanges, why bother? They’re taking losses for nothing. They might as well jump ship now.

Donald Trump is obviously worried about this, tweeting that Republicans need to make sure they don’t get any of the blame if Obamacare collapses. “Be careful!” he tweets. Newt Gingrich said much the same, and Greg Sargent decodes what this means:

Note that Gingrich’s primary concern is that Republicans will be put in the optical position of taking the blame for millions losing coverage — which, of course, would actually happen if Republicans do repeal the law without replacing it. So Republicans must create a way to make those who would lose coverage believe they won’t lose it later, with some sort of “bridge” that will keep them covered until that long-promised GOP replacement finally materializes.

The truth is that the Obamacare exchanges are in pretty good shape. There are problems here and there, and some people really have gotten hit with big premium increases. Overall, though, more than 10 million people are getting affordable health coverage from the exchanges and millions more are getting it from the Medicaid expansion. Premiums are now about where they should have been all along, and will probably increase at normal rates in the future. Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it’s in pretty good shape.

If it collapses, it will be due solely to appalling recklessness from the Republican caucus, which is afraid to put forward a plan of its own. That fear is well founded: It would take no more than a few days for everyone to figure out just how stingy it is and how many people would lose coverage under it.

If Republicans insist on hiding their plan from the American public, there’s only one possible reason for that: it’s terrible and they know it. Right now we have a working program that helps millions of low-income afford health insurance. If it collapses, that’s on Republicans. And they know it.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate