Do Republicans care about heath care reform?
That has been the questions a lot of bloggers have been asking in the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The answer from many of those bloggers, including some that lean libertarian, has been a resounding no.
Is it true?
Yes and no.
As Ross Douthat notes today, there have been several proposals over the last few years from lawmakers and even the Bush Administration to try to reform health care. Many of those proposals went nowhere for various reasons, but there has been some effort from the Right to deal with the problem of health care coverage in America.
But as Douthat also notes, there isn’t really a constituency in the GOP coalition calmoring for health care reform. So, while lawmakers and policy wonks come up with market-based solutions to the providing health care coverage, there is not that much interest among the organizations and voters who tend to lean Republican. There has been a lot of ruckus against the health care law, which is why there has been so much noise to repeal Obamacare and not so much to replace it.
The GOP is playing politics, while coming up short on policy. Douthat’s final paragraph spells out how repealing the ACA would be a moral scandal to the party:
If the Republicans win the White House and the Senate and then somehow manage to repeal Obamacare without putting any significant reforms in its place, it will represent not only policy malpractice, but a moral scandal as well.
I think Douthat is correct here. The problem of the lack of health care coverage is a real problem in America, one that I have myself encountered one-too-many times. I have a lot of philosophical and ideological problems with Obamacare, but I also think that a woefully imperfect plan is better than no plan at all. Part of my support for some kind of health care reform comes from my Christian faith and Rod Dreher pretty much sums up my reasoning:
…as a practicing Christian, I find it hard to justify a society as well-off as ours tolerating a situation in which so many people lack affordable, decent health care. Back when Congress was debating Obamacare, I was prepared to believe that Obama’s proposal was unacceptable, but it bothered me a lot that the Republicans had nothing to offer in its place. It seemed to me that they were implicitly denying that affordable health care was a problem.
That said, I don’t think that the GOP will heed Douthat’s warning. The reason being, there has been no price to pay for coming out against the law. Yes, there has been tons of ink spilled on how conservatives want people to die, but I doubt that most movement conservatives care. They see polls that say that folks are against the law, and the base is fired up against the act. Why would you care about morality when it seems like there is a wave of people supporting you?
I think one of two things have to happen before we see GOP leadership embrace health care reform: a dramatic loss at the polls that de-legitimizes the tactics of pure politics, or a growing voice for reform from constituencies from within the party.