The Wages of Bullcrap

December 1, 2016 10:00 p.m.

This will get dark, comical and ridiculous. Republicans – particularly Marco Rubio – did significant damage to Obamacare by getting rid of the so-called ‘risk corridors’ in Obamacare by labeling them bailouts. They were not ‘bailouts’ but systems to cushion the transition to the Obamacare system, given the inability to make perfect guesses about the risk pools in the system. Now, according to The Hill, Republicans are looking at giving vast sums of money to insurance companies to give them a way to ride out the market collapse that the repeal of Obamacare would likely trigger – that is, ride it out until Republicans can think up something to replace Obamacare with.

From The Hill

One Republican lobbyist said that in discussions about a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement, insurers are “painting a picture of the market that isn’t very pretty and Republican staffers are getting the picture.”

“They want to pump money back in to the insurers without appearing like they’re giving them a handout or bailing them out,” the lobbyist added.

A second lobbyist said Republican staff is discussing the effects of actually getting into law a repeal bill similar to the one passed last year through the fast-track process known as reconciliation. That measure would have taken out the core of ObamaCare on a two-year delay.

The lobbyist said Republicans are discussing: “What’s the impact on the 2018 plan year for that, and if it’s as bad as some people say, what are our options to mitigate the impact without looking like we’re bailing out the health insurance industry?”

This brings us to the essential copout behind all the ‘repeal’ jawboning. The health care industry has significantly remodeled itself around the Affordable Care Act. You can’t just pull the plug on that without all hell breaking loose, at least not all at once and not without a specific and visible framework for how you get from the repealed system to the new one. Republicans also have no policy or political answer to tens of millions of people losing their health care. In other words, they not only have no answer to ‘replace’ they don’t even have one for ‘repeal’.

The gargantuan giveaway to the health care industry we’re talking about here is supposedly to give Republicans time to figure out a replacement. But time isn’t the problem. They had more than six years to mull this one. They are simply unwilling to confront the actual alternatives. So the ‘bailout’ is a way to put off figuring out what to do.

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Given Republican fears of being tarred with voting a “bailout” for the health care industry they are apparently also looking at ways President Trump can provide the cash through regulatory action, thus avoiding the need for a vote.

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