Rep. Fred Upton's bill in the House, which would give insurance companies the option of continuing for a year the health insurance plans they have just canceled, is the first significant Republican effort to reform instead of kill the Affordable Care Act. Of course, it has a major downside: The number of those populating the exchanges will be smaller, and less healthy, because the individuals who will most want to keep their plans are the ones insurance companies cherry-picked due to their good health. But the bill at least acknowledges the reality that Obamacare is here to stay.
Will it be the first of a series of steps to adjust the ACA? I doubt it. The zeal to trash and sabotage Obamacare is now deeply seated among Republicans in and out of Washington. That zeal has nothing to do with the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov or the president's broken promise about the ability of everyone to keep his or her plan, much less the fundamentals of the act.
A good case study in this zeal comes from the Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. In a recent column, “Obamacare Laid Bare,” he challenges the entire structure of the Affordable Care Act.
Krauthammer does not like President Obama any more than he likes green eggs and ham, as evidenced by the fact that he can’t help but make two references to Benghazi and one to the IRS in a column on health policy. He attacks the plan for throwing far more people off their insurance than it can possibly be signing up on the exchanges. He lays into the idea that those with individual health plans will now be forced to pay for coverage they do not need: “So a couple in their 60s must buy maternity care. A teetotaler must buy substance-abuse treatment. And a healthy 28-year-old with perfectly appropriate catastrophic insurance must pay for bells and whistles for which he has no use.”