The AHCA represents more of the same

The AHCA represents more of the same

In 2009, the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, now known both affectionately and pejoratively as Obamacare. The bill passed through Congress without a single Republican vote, and was signed into law early in the term of a newly-elected Democratic president. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) infamously said that Congress had to pass the bill to find out what was in it, and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used many of the legislative tactics progressives now deride the Republicans for utilizing in the latest healthcare debate.

Although the political landscape in America has changed over the past eight years, there has been one consistent message: Republicans want Obamacare repealed. The GOP has run thousands of ads on this promise, it has fundraised on this promise, and it has won Congress and the White House swearing by this promise. Now, with the chips on the table, and the entire federal government unified by Republican control, it appears that this promise was nothing more than a massive lie.

I, and many other true conservatives and libertarians, oppose both the American Health Care Act and the Senate health care bill, but not for the reasons discussed by the so-called “resistance”. The bill is not bad because it could take away healthcare from millions, but rather because it continues the government’s failed and immoral intervention into the free choices of individuals and associations. The Republican bills fundamentally fail to deliver on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare and instead function as a system that preserves and expands the country’s latest entitlement scheme.

Obamacare made many promises to the American people that it failed to keep. Time and time again, President Obama infamously told Americans that if they liked their doctor, they could keep him or her. That turned out to be completely false, and the non-partisan website Politifact gave Obama’s statements its “Pants on Fire” designation. Millions of Americans have received cancellation notices from insurers since Obamacare became law, and they have ended up with plans that do not meet their individual needs.

Furthermore, the architects behind Obamacare promised to make health care more affordable. They believed in the premise so much that they had the gall to put “affordable care” in its very name. But once again, this turned out to backfire, as Americans buying healthcare in the exchanges have seen a large increase in premiums. The Department of Health and Human Service’s own data shows that since 2013 (one year before the ACA was fully implemented), premiums have risen by an average of 105 percent on healthcare.gov.

Among the many complex reasons for skyrocketing rates is increased regulation, such as the rule forcing companies to take on individuals that are a financial liability to insurance pools. The law’s unprecedented and coercive individual mandate was supposed to offset many of these spikes by threatening Americans with new taxes, but it has failed to persuade enough young, healthy people to get off the bench and into the game.

Let me be clear: despite what you hear from doomsday forecasters on the left, many of these key elements remain in the Republicans' plan for the American healthcare system. The Senate bill keeps the community rating price control system in place, continues to subsidize insurance companies that participate in the exchanges, keeps the Medicaid expansions in states where it exists for at least the next seven years (which will likely never be rolled back), and continues to fund Obamacare’s “cost-sharing” subsidies — something the law’s Democratic authors never even did. Additionally, Vox reported this weekend that Senate Republicans are seriously considering the addition of “severe penalties” for those who fail to purchase insurance — an idea indistinguishable from Obamacare’s individual mandate. So based on the actual text of the bill, it appears that Milton Friedman’s old adage that there’s no such thing as a temporary government program appears to be playing out yet again.

Aside from the clear practical problems that stem from entrenched government involvement in healthcare, this issue presents the more important moral question about the power of the state over the individual. Many, especially those who fight on behalf of the preexisting condition mandate, believe that healthcare is a fundamental right. But this is fiction. In the words of the not-so-libertarian television President Frank Underwood, “You are entitled to nothing.” Healthcare does not fall out of the sky like some divine gift. It is a service provided by highly trained medical professionals who spent many years and thousands of dollars to learn their craft. They, by the grace of God, have chosen to voluntarily share their service with the world in an exchange that benefits both those who are sick and those who do the healing. But the operative word here is choice. Consent is everything; It is what separates a prize fight from assault.

But progressives far more often favor force to choice. Rights are intrinsic to the individual and they center on the principle of self-ownership. Speech, the right to practice religion, the right to property, the right to voluntarily enter into contract, are all rights because they are all the fruits of one’s own labor; they do not require the coercion of another to fulfill. Healthcare, on the other hand, does not work this way. Unless one is already a doctor, a patient will likely require the assistance of another individual to meet his or her medical needs. If healthcare is treated as a right, it essentially boils down to two options for doctors: treat patients, or else suffer consequences. The voluntary element has completely vanished, and the relationship negates the doctor’s ability to own his labor.

If Republicans really cared about the free market, they would not only repeal the ACA, but they would go even further. They would free Americans from harmful insurance monopolies magically created by state borders, they would save Americans from the rising premium crisis they have helped create with massive subsidization and regulation, and they would save veterans from the everyday tragedy of the socialized medicine of the VA. But they won’t do these things, because they don’t care about the free market, and they don’t care about you. They only care about reelection and cashing checks from big insurance monopolies.

A free market solution to our healthcare debacle would lower costs and help more people get the insurance they want, but it would leave some — by choice or circumstance — without it. And that is okay. Because without the consent of the entirety of the people, our government can do nothing more than secure our natural rights, of which healthcare is not included.

To quote the great Calvin Coolidge, it is more important to kill bad bills than pass good ones. This is a bad bill. It is time to get government out of healthcare and allow the market to sort out our insurance mess. The GOP needs to start from scratch and keep its promise.

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