How the GOP Has Taken Ownership of Obamacare

Written by Daniel Horowitz

Republicans have not only betrayed their promise to repeal Obamacare, they have made Obamacare popular. They have championed its three core elements while refusing to even make the case against all its vulnerabilities and are now running on preserving it. While we are all focused on the results of November 6, we must gird up for a longer battle that, if not waged and won, will ensure we never have health care freedom in America, because consensus for government-run monopolies is close to fruition.

Republicans are making Obamacare great again

Republicans, with their pre-existing condition of political stupidity, have committed such malpractice that they’ve managed to own all the liabilities of Obamacare and the status quo dumpster-fire health care system, while also raising the ire of voters who want handouts, as if they are somehow going to repeal Obamacare. In doing so, they have turned “repeal and replace” into “cut and paste” and “root and branch” into “plant and fertilize.” By refusing to show how the Obamacare regulations, subsidies, and Medicaid expansion have created an unhealthy monopoly of insurers and health administrators, forced doctors into early retirement, and made insurance for all those not subsidized completely unaffordable, they have permanently ceded the playing field and created a consensus for all those provisions. And indeed, almost every Republican is running on preserving and expanding them.

This should shock anyone who ever voted for a Republican any time since 2010. What’s worse than Democrats winning is Republicans permanently adopting their views and ratcheting us further down the path to socialism.

We haven’t had a semblance of a free market in health care for decades, and that is why health care and medical insurance (which are not the same) are convoluted and so expensive. Obamacare just exacerbated every element that broke the system to begin with. Voters are justifiably unhappy with the status quo and are concerned about health care. Along with immigration, health care has consistently ranked as the top issue for this election.

Where is the GOP vision?

Where is the vision of health care that would eliminate the insurance cartel from its position between you and your doctor?

Where are all the victims of Obamacare talking about premiums tripling over a few years to $20,000-30,000 per year for a family? Where are all the ads from doctors lamenting the paperwork that pushed them out of business? Where are all the ads showing the health care cartel getting rich, destroying private practice, and buying up all the hospitals, insurers, and pharmacies under a handful of corporate masters, all enabled by the pot of money created by the Medicaid expansion? Why is nobody showing how the Medicaid expansion is fueling the opioid crisis?

The only thing never discussed in this health care debate is actual health care. While Republicans unfortunately never had a holistic vision on health care because it’s not a serious conservative party, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They did this successfully for three election cycles. And all the factors hurting doctors and patients that we all once talked about have gotten even worse over the past few years.

recent survey of 8,774 physicians conducted by the Physicians Foundation found that morale in the profession is lower than ever. Here are the key findings:

  • Thanks to the monopoly created by Obamacare and the crushing red tape of owning your own practice, the number of physicians who identified as independent practice owners plummeted from 48.5 percent in 2012 to 31 percent in 2018.
  • 62 percent are pessimistic about the future of medicine, 78 percent feel burned out, 46 percent are planning a career change, and 49 percent would not recommend the profession to their children.
  • Doctors cited Obama’s “electronic health records” regulation, insurance requirements, and loss of clinical autonomy as the three biggest challenges to their success – even ahead of the medical malpractice problem.
  • Doctors reported that 23 percent of their time is spent on paperwork.

Republicans could have been riding high on health care

Several weeks after the 2016 election victory, I laid out a strategy for repealing Obamacare the day of the inauguration, “root and branch.” Republicans could immediately have grabbed the bull by the horns with the most capital they had had in a generation and would have had two years to deal with the issue. Instead, they created the worst outcome of all – preserving Obamacare and all its vices under their leadership and owning its fallout while giving other voters the perception they will take away entitlements. As my buddy John Hayward brilliantly put it, Republicans have always had a rare gift for paying the political price associated with revolutionary change without actually accomplishing anything revolutionary. They’re savaged for actions they were intimidated out of taking.”

It’s pretty clear that over the past few weeks, the smart-set consultants – the same consultants who are politically illiterate on immigration – got into a room and told all the candidates to run on the Democrat language, premise, focus, and philosophy of “protecting pre-existing conditions.” Every single Republican Senate candidate suddenly began running ads extolling the virtues of what essentially destroyed insurance in America.

Really? Why are we legitimizing and emphasizing the core premise behind Obamacare and not focusing on the fundamentals of health care? What’s the macro-message that comes across to voters?

This is how you make Democrat premises popular. Who needs Democrats when Republicans serve as better messengers for their misleading talking points than Democrats do with their off-putting belligerence? At this point, why not just run Christine O’Donnell ads of “I’m not a witch?”

Republicans win either by uprooting a Democrat premise or ignoring it and focusing the debate elsewhere, not by getting into a bidding war on their terms. And even if somehow they pull off a win on this messaging, what in fact have we won? If “owning the libs” means winning by owning their policies, count me out.

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