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Winning the battle but losing the war?

While the Republicans seem to throw all their energy into winning political battles, they have a very short attention span when it comes to actually governing. Their emphasis is on tactics, not on strategy. So while they somehow managed to win the 2010 midterm elections, they fumbled the ball after that.

And overturning health care reform is a good example. After introducing bill after bill trying to overturn Obamacare, it make take dreaded activist judges to accomplish that goal for them.

But here’s the rub. Republicans have no alternative for Obamacare, and they are going to need one. Even top Republicans admit that for the process of replacing Obamacare, the Republican wheels are just “beginning to turn“.

So how will Republicans solve the problem of spiraling health care costs? Their best idea was the individual mandate, but once Obama borrowed that idea from them they have vigorously opposed it. So what’s left?

Malpractice insurance is 2% of health care costs, so even completely eliminating malpractice lawsuits wouldn’t help.

Another idea they have floated is allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines, supposedly increasing competition. But the cost of insurance has almost nothing to do with the location of the insurance company, it is based on the cost of providing health care where the patient lives. Plus, if you buy insurance from a company in another state, it will be a lot harder to sue them, even if they defraud you, so that will make it easier for shady companies to sell bogus policies.

The only remaining Republican idea that might help is creating government insurance pools for people with preexisting conditions. Ironically, this will increase government involvement in health care far more than Obamacare’s individual mandate. So the Republicans, who claim to want to keep government out of health care, will end up increasing government involvement dramatically.

Either that, or a completely gridlocked Congress won’t be able to come up with any alternative to Obamacare, and we will go back to our completely broken health insurance system. Nobody, will like that. And Republicans will pay the price.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.



  1. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I think you are overlooking one simple fact which the Republicans have finally understood and embraced whole-heartedly: Republican voters would MUCH rather be screwed by Republicans than be helped by Democrats.

    Tort reform doesn’t actually solve any problems? It actually screws over patients? Who cares. It is something they can do, and many Republicans (visit any website talking about health care and look at the comments from conservative folks) feel like that’s the next big step.

    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  2. Bard wrote:

    even shorter memory span: Remember 2-3 years ago or so when Republicans were complaining about activist judges overturning laws?

    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  3. IK: Could you please site the statistic about malpractice and 2%? I’m curious about it, and it could make a useful talking point. Thanks!

    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    TD, it is in the link in the third paragraph.

    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Arthanyel wrote:

    TD – the cost of malpractice judgement is about 2% ofd the total cost of health care. I don’t jhave a link but it’s a frequently cited statistic in the industry. That said, tort reform will have some positivre impact because the cost of defensive medicine is not just the actual malpractice awards – it’s the costs of unnecessary tests and unnecessary treatments prescribed to minimize malpractice exposure, the cost of older more experienced doctors being forced to retire because malpractice insurance premiums go up each you have NOT been sued, and the overlay cost of malpractice insurance itself.

    All that said, tort reform would be helpful but it won’t even cut the annual rise in medical costs to twice the rate of inflation, let alone solve the problem.

    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    The article linked to in the original post has an interesting discussion of a solution to the problem of defensive medicine. Simply have a panel that comes up with guidelines for standard treatments, and any doctor who follows those guidelines is automatically assumed to not be committing malpractice.

    Of course, and ironically, that would get the government even more involved in determining health care.

    Monday, April 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink
  7. (IK: I really should stop skimming your links. Sorry.)

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink