Obamacare May Survive

Here’s a remarkable admission from former Speaker of the House John Boehner: The ACA will not be repealed.

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said Thursday that the idea that Congress would completely repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was “happy talk” and “not going to happen.”

Boehner was speaking at a health care conference in Orlando, according to Politico.

“Republicans never ever agree on health care,” he said. …

…Boehner on Thursday was not optimistic that repeal and replace would occur. Instead, congressional Republicans are “going to fix Obamacare – I shouldn’t call it repeal and replace, because it’s not going to happen,” he said.

He concluded, according to Politico: “Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act … that’s going to be there.”

Put another way, the Republicans screwed themselves on Obamacare. They really are the dog that caught the car.

Let’s review:

This is from the Washington Post, January 17

Trump said his plan for replacing most aspects of Obama’s health-care law is all but finished. Although he was coy about its details — “lower numbers, much lower deductibles” — he said he is ready to unveil it alongside Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“It’s very much formulated down to the final strokes. We haven’t put it in quite yet but we’re going to be doing it soon,” Trump said. He noted that he is waiting for his nominee for secretary of health and human services, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), to be confirmed. That decision rests with the Senate Finance Committee, which hasn’t scheduled a hearing.

This is from a CNBC story dated just one week ago:

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he hopes to submit health care reform as soon as early March, giving a timeline to a key promise that has hit some stumbles in the first weeks of his administration.

“We’re doing Obamacare, we’re in the final stages,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “So, we will be submitting sometime in early March, mid-March.”

However, yesterday CNBC reported that Tom Price said there will be no bill coming from the White House.

Health Secretary Tom Price has told House Republicans “the administration wouldn’t be sending us a bill” after all, said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. Instead, Cole added, the White House “will cooperate and provide input into what we do.”

He didn’t have a plan; nobody in the White House was even working on a plan; he probably still has no clue what a plan might look like.

Why am I not surprised?

The first executive order the so-called president signed was a direction to repeal Obamacare.

The one-page order, which Mr. Trump signed in a hastily arranged Oval Office ceremony shortly before departing for the inaugural balls, gave no specifics about which aspects of the law it was targeting. But its broad language gave federal agencies wide latitude to change, delay or waive provisions of the law that they deemed overly costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or states, suggesting that it could have wide-ranging impact, and essentially allowing the dismantling of the law to begin even before Congress moves to repeal it.

The order states what Mr. Trump made clear during his campaign: that it is his administration’s policy to seek the “prompt repeal” of the law, which has come to be known as Obamacare. But he and Republicans on Capitol Hill have not yet devised a replacement, making such action unlikely in the immediate term.

“In the meantime,” the order said, “pending such repeal, it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the act, and prepare to afford the states more flexibility and control to create a more free and open health care market.”

The order has symbolic as well as substantive significance, allowing Mr. Trump to claim he acted immediately to do away with a health care law he has repeatedly called disastrous, even while it remains in place and he navigates the politically perilous process of repealing and replacing it.

So far, I understand the IRS says it will not be all that vigorous about punishing people for not buying insurance, but that’s about all I’ve heard. There was all kinds of consternation at the time about what this order might mean, but so far it hasn’t meant much of anything.

So the White House isn’t going to do anything, and Congress is stymied, because if Republicans do what they want to do it would cut millions of people off from access to health care. And they are not so stupid — most of ’em, anyway — that they don’t dimly understand that, and realize it could come back to bite them.

See also “The Republican Congress Is Courting a Major Crisis” by Brian Beutler and “What’s Next For The Affordable Care Act? Your Questions Answered” at NPR.