Republicans failed to block Obamacare from passing Congress. They failed to get it overturned by the Supreme Court. They failed to repeal it by electing a Republican president.
And now, with the law apparently here to stay, they’re rolling out their latest strategy to undermine it: Make it work badly, so the public wants to repeal it later.
Obamacare is moving forward. The administration is rolling out new regulations today under the Affordable Care Act — regulations that will finally eliminate “pre-existing condition” from the vocabulary of insurance-seeking Americans.
But Republicans are committed to ensuring that the law’s implementation fails. Right now, as Jonathan Cohn notes, Republican governors are trying to accomplish this by turning down the chance to run state-based exchanges. Remember that under the health law, state governments will set up on-line insurance marketplaces so that those without insurance can easily compare and purchase the private-market package best for them. The law did allow for states to opt out, in which case the federal government would do it for them. Now, normally Republicans would assure us that the states do a better job of running things than the federal government in Washington, especially states with Republican governments. The key, however, is that they simply don’t want this policy to work, so they’re simply refusing to implement it: The latest in the GOP scorched earth policy on health care, now that it’s been defeated everywhere else.
This effort to undermine the law by undermining implementation may be unprecedented. Can anyone think of a similar historical example?
This is different from typical opposition. It’s as if Democrats who opposed missile defense had actively campaigned for contracts to go to the contractors they believed were most likely to produce duds, just so they could eliminate the program after “proving” that it didn’t work. Of course, some argued that Republicans were deliberately undermining the economy during Barack Obama’s first term in order to prevent his re-election. I’m very reluctant to make those sorts of charges; after all, it’s not at all implausible that Republicans really did counsel austerity because they honestly think that was best for the economy.
But on health care, it’s increasingly hard to believe that they want good outcomes. And that’s a lot worse than just typical opposition.