For the last six weeks, Republicans have been full of nothing but sympathy for the approximately 5 million Americans who have gotten notices that their health insurance plans that are getting canceled.
These people — they are having difficulty with their access to health insurance! How can we tolerate such a situation for our fellow citizens?
Indeed, many of these people have legitimate grievances: In some cases, they will have to pay more for equivalent coverage. In other cases, they should have better deals coming to them, but the problematic rollout of Obamacare's insurance exchanges has made it difficult for them to sign up for those deals.
But here's the thing: To Republicans, 5 million cancellation notices is an outrage, even though the people getting the notices will have other options for coverage, and in many cases those options will be cheaper and better.
But 47 million people without coverage, in most cases because they can't afford it is not outrageous at all. In fact, it's a desired policy outcome.
I can hear the shouting now. How dare I say that Republicans want the uninsured to stay uninsured? I'm being unfair! Republicans have their own policies for expanding access to health care! Haven't I heard how they are for tort reform? They want to cover the chronically ill through high-risk pools! They are just awash in conservative health reform ideas and legislation!
This is a load of crap.
Republicans do not favor any sort of health care reform. They do not favor policies to expand health insurance coverage. They do not even favor their own ideas about high-risk pools.
If Republicans had the least bit of interest in fixing America's trainwreck of a health care system, they would have done it when they ran the federal government.
The only thing Republicans can agree on as a party is that they hate the president, they hate Obamacare, and they therefore want to defend the pre-Obamacare status quo. That is, America spending twice as much as our peer countries to achieve the same health outcomes they get, all the while leaving one-seventh of the population uninsured.
Obamacare is a mess. It's such a mess that it should be vulnerable to attack from a party with a better, cleaner, more efficient set of ideas about to reform the health care system. But as Republicans have nothing to replace Obamacare with, and the pre-Obamacare status quo can no longer be recreated, it won't be repealed or replaced.
In some sense, that means the president is lucky. But the country is not.
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