Jonathan Chait for NY Magazine had a great article explaining why the Republicans crusade to kill Obamacare was always based on delusions that are no longer possible to conceal. The delusions include that ObamaCare is unpopular; too expensive; and not effective.
Chait quotes, Richard Hanna, a Republican from New York who just retired from Congress: “At the end of the day, the Affordable Care Act will in some form survive, and the millions of people who are on it will have insurance,” he said. “It’s something this country needed and something people want. Politically, it’s untenable to just wipe it away. So who really won? In my argument, the president, Obama, won. At the end of the day we will have some sort of national health care that’s going to look very similar to what we have.”
Several Senate Republicans have opposed repealing Obamacare without a replacement. The plan to quickly repeal, and then figure out a replacement, appears to have been halted, and the party has yet to decide what will take its place.
President Trump conceded that health care was “very complicated,” and floated a timetable for devising a replacement that could extend into next year:
Yes, in the process and maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year, but we’re certainly going to be in the process. Very complicated — Obamacare is a disaster. You have to remember Obamacare doesn’t work, so we are putting in a wonderful plan. It statutorily takes a while to get. We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon. I think that, yes, I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.
As the Republicans continue their long retreat, they are encountering every false premise that brought them to this point. The most important of these is a misconception about Obamacare’s popularity. Now it is advocates of Obamacare mobilizing in anger and chasing terrified Republican members of Congress down the street. Conservatives spent years lionizing demonstrations against Obamacare as the justifiable anger of a free people.
The law’s growing popularity can be seen across several dimensions. Repealing Obamacare first, without a replacement, is wildly unpopular, drawing 20 percent approval or less. Repealing the law and starting over with a new one — the Republican position since 2010 — draws support from one-third of the public, while keeping Obamacare and fixing it gets nearly twice as much support. On the straightforward question of whether Barack Obama’s health-care reform was a good idea or a bad one, for the first time ever, “good idea” now wins:
And Americans by a significant margin believe it is the government’s responsibility to make sure everybody has coverage:
The chart above is especially telling. Notice that a huge majority agreed that the government should cover everybody before and after Obama’s presidency, but that support collapsed during the time of an administration attempting to implement this goal.
The second delusion is the cost of health care. While GOP rhetoric has lambasted the cost of plans offered by Obamacare, their alternatives would all impose even higher costs. Hospitals are demanding that Republicans either keep covering the Americans who have insurance through Obamacare, or else compensate the hospitals for the losses they would suffer from facing millions of customers who can longer pay for their care. AARP has staked out opposition to one of the GOP’s favorite proposals to charge even higher rates to older customers. Obamacare only permits insurers to charge older customers up to three times as much as the young. Republicans have railed against the burden this places on younger workers buying insurance — and it’s true that Obamacare makes the young pay more so the old can pay less.
The pattern of the three months since the election shows the cause of Obamacare repeal collapsing because ObamaCare is effective in providing coverage, increasing access, and lowering the cost of health care. Obama and his party were able to design a plan that squared the minimal humanitarian needs of the public with the demands of the medical industry.