Republican Healthcare Reform Purgatory

The Republicans keep coming back to healthcare. At the rate they are going, they will match their attempts to repeal and replace under Obama, and with equal results.

Something in the Republican psyche keeps telling them to make this happen, and that mantra apparently makes them forget that they couldn’t get to yes. So they start again, only to remember that the deal isn’t there.

The main problem here is that they haven’t started over. They keep trying to revive a very broken approach, and the blame there is largely on the High-Fructose Corn syrup, err, House Freedom Caucus. That bloc wants a full repeal of the ACA. And they’ve been pushing and shoving their sugar-free colleagues, trying to get them to agree to a move that would be harmful to their own interests.

Before the ACA there was a vibrant scamsurance industry that sold people policies that wouldn’t pay for a lot of things, or where they could kick people off while pocketing their premiums if the person ever got sick. It’s not clear that the HFC is funded by that unsavory element, but it is undeniable that their legislative desires would return us to those bad old days.

If the GOP wants to govern responsibly, the first step is to reject that approach to healthcare. So far, they’ve tried to balance things out, and so far they’ve gotten nowhere. That’s because they need the HFC to pass the bill unless they work with Democrats. Working with the opposition is entirely possible, but they would have to accept a much smaller tax cut for the wealthy.

They would also have to swallow their pride, after going it alone so long. They would have to explain to their constituents that the idea that all Democrats are scum just doesn’t hold water, and, really, they are patriots and have some good ideas. Yuck.

And so the Republicans find themselves in this loop. They really want to cut those taxes for the wealthy, so they can use them to pay for a larger tax overhaul for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Democrats have jumped the gun, already starting to point out that tax reform should include the question of how it would affect Trump’s taxes, necessitating the release of his past returns.

There are actual insurance companies that would like to know how this shakes out. There are people who buy insurance that want to know if they should prepare to be uncovered for a period of time and cancel that skydiving trip. But the Republicans are still pretending that they can govern without some faction or other giving in.

They are pretending that 24 million more uncovered individuals is something people will accept. That they can humor the HFC. That all of this doesn’t end in tears unless they stop these headfakes toward reform and actually start over and tell the HFC that either they work with the rest of the GOP on a moderate reform, or the GOP has no choice but to work with the Democrats.

In all visible scenarios, the GOP faces an electoral reckoning. But they’re the party in power, so their best-case is a responsible, moderate change that makes things better.