The huge lie at the heart of the Republican’s health care efforts

Donald Trump constantly says Obamacare is falling apart and we have to do something now to avoid some sort of health care catastrophe.  Just not remotely true.  Of course, this whole “Obamacare is falling apart” is one of the central GOP talking points on the matter.  And it’s just not true.  I was especially intrigued listening to this NPR  interview yesterday.  Loved how they fact-checked in the middle of a recorded interview:

[Alabama Congressman Bradley] BYRNE: That turns out to be bogus. I was just going through a pretty detailed review of that CBO analysis. They say 24 million people will, quote, “lose insurance.” Eleven million of those people – and this is CBO’s analysis – won’t lose their insurance. They’re presently required to have insurance. And they’re going to elect to drop their insurance because they don’t want to have to have that insurance – 11 million out of the 24 million.

MCEVERS: And just a clarification here. We checked the congressman’s numbers. And he’s sort of right. If the requirement to have insurance goes away, a lot of people likely will drop their plans. But many will drop those plans because they won’t be able to afford them if subsidies shrink or disappear. OK. Now back to the interview.

Great.  Good journalism.  Here’s Byrne later, though:

MCEVERS: One more sort of big picture question. You know, what’s the rush to push this bill through tomorrow? You’ve got, you know, still some conservative Republicans who don’t like the bill, obviously Democrats who don’t like the bill. Why not wait until there’s a sense that more people would be onboard?

BYRNE: What we are hearing from people in the health insurance industry is that these plans are deteriorating so rapidly that we cannot wait. If we don’t get something going now, we’re not going to be in a position to try to repair these insurance markets before they fall apart. [emphasis mine]

Again, that’s grossly untrue.  I guess we can’t expect even NPR to fact check all the lies spilling out of Republicans on this.  For the record, here’s Vox on the non-implosion (as determined by the CBO].  It’s also worth noting that a huge part of the Republican “reform” is slashing Medicaid.  Nobody is actually suggesting Medicaid is imploding (okay, probably some Republicans are).  But the truth is they just want to do less to help poor people have health care.

Oh, and just before publishing this, I came across this Josh Barro column that fits the theme of Republican lies on health care (even though it is different lies):

The difference on healthcare is that Republicans never had an ideology about it. So they were willing to lie, and there are two facts about the healthcare debate that a liar can exploit quite effectively until he is actually expected to make policy. People are always upset about how much healthcare costs, and healthcare is very complicated, so it is hard for voters to tell whether a politician is actually able to keep his or her promises about it.

If you went around telling abortion opponents that you would ban abortion and abortion-rights advocates that you would give abortions out free, the two sides might notice you were promising two incompatible policies. But for years, Republicans were able to capitalize on public ignorance and get away with promises that amounted to “much less expensive and much better.”

Their political strategy was cynically brilliant until it led to their getting elected…

The need to actually make policy is exposing the fact that Republicans made many healthcare promises they never intended to keep.

Republicans have denounced insurance plans sold under Obamacare as insufficient, because the deductibles and co-payments under some plans are so high that many people feel they can’t afford care even if they are insured. But the AHCA would allow insurers to sell plans that would cover an even smaller fraction of insured people’s healthcare expenses.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that deductibles for an individual-market insurance plan on average would rise by $1,550 under the AHCA.

Republicans complained that premiums were too high for people to afford, and then they proposed a law that would cut premium subsidies by hundreds of billions of dollars and would leave some people near retirement age with insurance premiums of more than half their income…

Through the years, healthcare experts on the right have allowed themselves to be used as window dressing for a party that was never actually interested in taking their policy advice.

The experts would write white papers about conservative approaches to healthcare. Republican politicians would indignantly wave the white papers around and insist that they had not only one plan for healthcare but many plans, and they involved high-risk pools and selling insurance across state lines and something something patient-centered mumble mumble mumble and whatever was in the paper was going to be way better than Obamacare.

Ryan even developed an undeserved reputation as a healthcare “wonk.”

But those white papers were always just paper. The plans described in them were never going to be implemented by an actual Republican government, which would not be interested in paying for the plans the papers described. The only thing Republicans ever intended to use them for was indignant waving.

It was all a lie. And the lie is finally about to be punished.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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