The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a healthcare bill that essentially reforms Obamacare. It cannot be said that it repeals and replaces Obamacare because there are still certain aspects of Obamacare that remain.
You can call it Trumpcare, or Ryancare or Obamacare lite, or whatever you want. The fact is that it is not a full repeal of Obamacare as Trump and the Republicans have been promising for so long. From a libertarian standpoint, it may or may not be a step in the right direction.
The bill is hard to understand. In the words of Pelosi, I guess we will have to pass the bill to find out what is in it. It does not have many of the market-oriented reforms that have been proposed by libertarians and even Rand Paul. For this reason, I don’t even think the bill is a step in the right direction. My guess is that it will have little impact in the price of health insurance premiums.
From a libertarian standpoint, we should generally seek repeal. Take the income tax for example. Some people support the so-called Fair Tax that would replace income taxes with a massive national sales tax. It is said to be revenue neutral, which is the main reason libertarians should oppose it. It replaces one bad thing with another bad thing. We should seek to repeal the income tax. If that is not achievable, then we should seek to at least lessen its burden.
The same goes with Obamacare. I would rather see a partial repeal with nothing to replace it than replacing it with more government bureaucracy. We seek a full repeal of Obamacare and then move on to repealing other federal regulations on healthcare.
Ironically, the one thing that Donald Trump stressed in his presidential campaign on healthcare was that we should allow health insurance to be sold across state lines. This was his main thing, yet it is nowhere to be found.
When the latest bill passed the House, there were 20 Republicans who defected. They defected for different reasons. Some said that it would leave too many people vulnerable with inadequate health coverage. In other words, there was opposition from the left-leaning Republicans.
There was also a little opposition from the libertarian-leaning Republicans. While most of the Freedom Caucus had a change of heart and supported this bill, there were a few notable dissents who opposed the bill on more libertarian grounds. Thomas Massie and Walter Jones – probably two of the best people in the House from a libertarian standpoint – opposed the latest bill.
Notably missing from the opposition was Justin Amash. Amash has had some fighting words for Trump in the past, but he capitulated on this vote. He was supposed to be the next Ron Paul of the House. If anyone can live up to that mantle, I think it is either Thomas Massie or Walter Jones. I don’t think it is Amash.
While there are more libertarian-leaning people in the House now than we have generally seen in the past, it is hard to compare anyone to the long and principled career of Ron Paul. He really was one-of-a-kind in terms of politicians in Washington DC.
This latest healthcare bill may not pass the Senate. Even if it does, I doubt it will do much good for the Republicans. They may claim victory, and the Democrats will wail and complain about how many people will suffer, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t do enough to actually bring down health insurance premiums.
One of the main reasons Trump was elected was because he was seen as an advocate for the middle class. People are struggling because they are forking over so much money for health insurance that is mostly useless. If this continues, it is hard to see how Trump will get re-elected, unless the Democrats put up another corrupt or incompetent candidate again.
Even worse, if this bill prevents insurance companies from discriminating against pre-existing conditions as it is said to do, yet it doesn’t compel people to buy insurance, then it may just lead to even higher premiums and eventually bankrupt insurance companies. This could be a faster ticket to fully nationalized healthcare than what exists with Obamacare.