Why Obamacare Repeal Will Help Republicans Politically

Democrats are pretending to be delighted that Obamacare appears on its way out, and the liberal media parrot their claim that Obamacare repeal will be a political disaster for Republicans. To take one of many instances, the Associated Press wrote last night: “Democrats see a winning issue in opposing GOP health bill.”

Democrats aren’t happy about the House Republican health care bill, but they are upbeat about the prospect of the measure serving as a millstone around GOP necks.

The House bill has Americans in an uproar over its negative aspects, such as older people facing higher costs and 14 million people losing their insurance in the first year. Democrats are positioning health care as the issue that will help them regain control of the House.
Democratic fundraising has surged to challenge vulnerable Republicans who backed the plan.

If you think that sounds like a Democratic National Committee press release, you are probably right. My guess is that the AP story either paraphrases or quotes liberally from a DNC missive. Seriously: Americans are in an “uproar” over “negative aspects” of the House bill? In the Democrats’ dreams.

To hear the Democrats and their media representatives talk, you would think Obamacare is popular. But the program has never been liked by most voters, and Republicans have run–and won–in the last four election cycles by vowing to repeal it.

Democrats now talk about an idealized version of Obamacare that has never existed. They never mention the millions who have been harmed by Obamacare, including those who lost their employer-sponsored coverage and those who saw their individual premiums soar. And in the real world, Obamacare is in a death spiral in many states regardless of what Congress does.

Apart from these basics, whether the current version of Obamacare repeal and replacement will be a political winner depends on what happens to premiums in the individual market. The problem with the original House bill that failed several weeks ago was that it would not have brought premiums down in the near future (i.e., before the 2018 election). That defect has been remedied in the current legislation, as my colleague Peter Nelson, one of the country’s top health care experts, explains:

Several state health insurance markets are in crisis and need immediate relief to regain their footing. Average premiums rose by over 40 percent in eleven states and by 25 percent overall. In response, insurers are leaving the market, leaving one in three counties with just one insurer. The MacArthur amendment frees states to take various steps to improve their insurance market by granting them a waiver from key regulations.
Obamacare’s EHB requirement forces insurers to provide a comprehensive set of benefits that covers both expected and unexpected health care costs. States could allow insurers to offer a much more affordable benefit set focused on providing financial protection.

Put simply, Obamacare repeal will once again make it legal to offer cheap insurance. Insurance companies will do so, and many people will buy it. The House bill can be improved by the Senate, but if the final product results in lower premiums in the individual market by November 2018, as it should, it will be a huge political winner.