Healthcare Reform: We’re probably not done yet

There’s no question that Washington is in disarray today.

On the heels of President Trump’s ultimatum to Republicans late Thursday to either pass the American Health Care Act on Friday or be stuck with ObamaCare, Collins [R, NY] said tensions are at an all-time high. “I’ve never seen this before,” Collins said. “People are just refusing to talk to each other. They’re storming past each other.”(1)

The ultra conservative Freedom Caucus was demanding a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no replacement. To that, Collins responded, “Oh, that would get about 50 votes.” 217 would be needed for passage. Not happening.

With the AHCA bill, the last minute attempts to gain support among ultra conservatives chased away more moderate GOP congressmen. Functionally, the bill died at 11AM Friday morning, when GOP Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ, a moderate and chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee) announced his opposition to it. That’s when Paul Ryan requested a meeting with Trump, and the decision to withdraw the bill followed.

That leaves obvious choices for the Administration:

  • Figure out how to unify conservative and moderate Republicans (hasn’t happened and there’s no clear way forward), or
  • Start working with Democrats, which will further anger the GOP right wing, or
  • Simply play golf for the next four years.

The Freedom Caucus wants to revisit repeal of the ACA. Trump has said he will leave ACA alone and move to other issues, notably tax reform.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said this today:

A day after President Donald Trump labeled the Democrats the ultimate losers in the failed Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Lindsey Graham urged bipartisanship on the issue moving forward.

“I don’t think that one party’s going to be able to fix this by themselves,” the South Carolina Republican said Saturday at a town hall event. “I think the President should reach out to Democrats, I should reach out to Democrats, and we should say, ‘Let’s take a shot at doing this together because it ain’t working doing it by ourselves.'”
After Republicans were forced to pull their bill to replace Obamacare from the floor of the GOP-controlled House on Friday, Trump blamed Democrats and vowed to let Obamacare “explode.”(2)
Unless Trump wants to learn from this experience, golf might be his best option.
What you need to consider:
  • We’re probably not done with changes in healthcare. Something may happen later this year. However, any bill that ignores the needs of consumers is unlikely to pass. Most Congressmen want to keep their jobs and the House is up for re-election next year.
  • You need to conserve cash because healthcare costs are likely to rise, although perhaps not as much as forecast if the AHCA had passed.  Whatever you have in savings probably isn’t enough.
  • Despite the dire warnings from the GOP, it’s unlikely that the ACA (aka Obamacare) will “explode.” Insurance companies like to make money, and they only do so when they write profitable insurance policies. The sky isn’t falling.
  • People who put ideology ahead of common sense and practical solutions should be in theology, not politics. They perform no useful service in Congress.


  1. “Republican congressman says the GOP ‘hasn’t figured out yet how to be the governing party’,” The Week, 24 March 2017.
  2. Eugene Scott, “Lindsey Graham on health care: Republicans and Democrats need to work together,” CNN, 25 March 2017.

One comment

  1. If no new legislation is forthcoming, then the focus moves to the Dept. of HHS. Price may try to create – or at least accelerate – problems with the ACA through the regulatory process. Even if AHCA had passed, they were going to do this as a second step in order to torpedo elements of the law that couldn’t be repealed via reconciliation. Trump and the Republicans must be held accountable for the damage they do.


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