Healthcare failure represents more

Patrick Quinlan, Courier Staff

We really should be grateful for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and the members of the House Freedom Caucus for their adhering to principles over party on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s failed Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement bill and effectively killing it before it could be brought to the floor on Friday. Very few notable changes existed in the new Republican bill when compared to the 2010 ACA, so the blocking of this bill by House Freedom Caucus members stopped a bad law being replaced by essentially the same thing.

When — and yes, I do mean when — the somewhat market-based, somewhat socialized hybrid nonsense we know as Obamacare collapses, as Paul, Ryan and other conservative government officials and economists say it will, as healthy, young people pay the fine rather than premiums, and insurance companies demand more and more in subsidies to maintain whatever profit levels they may have enjoyed before, the blame will very obviously fall squarely on those who passed the bill with not one Republican voting in support: the Democrats. So not only does the Freedom Caucus leave the door open to implement a healthcare system based on market-centered solutions rather than government forced ones, it also saves face in case those reforms aren’t passed and the U.S. healthcare system remains the disaster that it is today.

And to be fair, this is more a reflection on Ryan, who failed to secure the required votes because of his clear lack of charisma or consensus-building ability, than it is on President Donald Trump, who we already knew supported some form of socialized medicine anyway, as was made evident during a “60 Minutes” interview earlier this year. This healthcare debacle is just fuel on the fire for the now-popular conservative movement to remove Ryan as Speaker of the House and replace him with someone outside of the establishment.

And in all honesty, this may well have been intentional on the part of the president. As people, particularly on the left, love to remind people, Trump certainly has the ability to hold a grudge, and he no doubt took notice when Ryan joined the “NeverTrump” crowd. This could have just been Trump’s way to oust Ryan from the Speaker position without publicly denouncing him or asking him to resign. Trump may present himself as a loud and boisterous ignoramus, but he didn’t build a business empire or get elected to the nation’s highest office by actually being those things. Looking closely at the events of the election can show you this: it’s as if Trump is often three or four moves ahead of everyone else.

If we ought to take away anything, then, from the first Republican attempt at an Obamacare repeal and replace, it ought to be that the same sort of socialized medicine legislation that is outlined in the ACA will never pass the current Republican-controlled House. Furthermore, Ryan has lost any and all credibility as a consensus builder even within his own party (his photo leaving the White House last week pretty well sums up the Speaker’s reputation around Washington following the American Health Care Act’s failure). Let us hope Republicans can come to some kind of consensus about a healthcare law that embraces market reforms rather than further mandates, be it with or without the current Speaker of the House.