, Salem, MA


July 30, 2013

Column: Can we get real about repealing Obamacare?


OK, reducing liability for doctors while decreasing the risk of medical errors is a good idea, and the Affordable Care Act has provisions for doing those things. Selling insurance across state lines might lower premiums for healthy people, but it would make policies for sick people very expensive. That’s why they call it a race to the bottom. Any other ideas?

Blunt: “Nope. That’s about it. No 906-page bill for me. My health care plan fits on the back of my hand.”

Really? But surely some of you Republicans have more of a health care plan than just tort reform and selling insurance across state lines.

Voice from back of room: “Of course, we have a plan! What do we look like, obstructionists?”

OK, great. What’s the plan?

Everyone chimes in at once. “Repeal Obamacare! That’s the plan. Defund it in the budget. Refuse to help constituents figure out the insurance exchanges. Run a campaign telling young adults not to buy insurance. Make up scary stories about price hikes. Urge states not to expand Medicaid eligibility. Shut down the government if we have to. Whatever it takes.”

Well, now we’re getting somewhere. Repealing Obamacare is the plan. The only plan. But then what will you do when families lose everything when somebody gets sick and can’t hold down a job? What do you say to people who have been canceled by their insurers because they’ve reached lifetime limits? How do you rationalize having the most expensive health care system in the developed world and some of the poorest results?

A suntanned guy in the front row stands up. “House Speaker John Boehner here. When the bad stuff happens, we blame Obama. That’s been the plan all along.”

With that, the class rises for a round of high-fives and heads for the exits.

Barbara Shelly is a columnist for the Kansas City Star.

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