Thursday, July 20, 2017

Editorial: Reasons for the health-insurance debacle, and things for Congress to consider

The health-insurance debacle in the Senate has prompted much commentary. One of the clearest and tightest pieces of analysis and agenda-setting comes from The Anniston Star, a small daily newspaper in Alabama. Here are excerpts and paraphrases from its editorial:

"If the Republicans anxious to rid the nation of Obamacare had a replacement plan they thought would be popular and easy to pass, they would have trotted it out" in past campaigns and held hearings on it. "The truth is repealing Obamacare was a great political strategy for Republican candidates. It gave them control of the both houses of Congress and the White House. However, as the world now sees, it became a policy bear trap when those lawmakers transitioned from politicking to governing. . . . Politicians should do more than tell us what’s wrong. They should campaign on their solutions."

While Obamacare "has drastically reduced the number of uninsured Americans, there are many who remain uncovered," including millions in Republican-governed states like Alabama that didn't expand Medicaid. "The marketplaces for insurance aren’t nearly as competitive as they should be. There aren’t strong-enough incentives to convince young, healthy people to enroll, something that would spread out the risk pool. Obamacare doesn’t focus enough on wellness and good health habits, a long-term project that would keep Americans from needing expensive medical treatments related to smoking, drug use, obesity and an inactive lifestyle."

"Republicans and Democrats can and should work together to improve these challenges. More importantly, they should do this work in view of the public, not behind closed doors."

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