Within minutes of the Supreme Court’s decisive 6-3 ruling to uphold Obamacare and thus prevent wholesale chaos in the health-insurance market, Republicans began reading from the same discredited if familiar script.
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter of Savannah complained that the ruling did nothing about “the devastating impact of this train wreck of a law.” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas lamented that “Obamacare has been a disaster for the millions of hardworking American families who have seen their health care costs skyrocket or lost their insurance entirely.” Sen. David Perdue claimed that as a result of Obamacare, many Georgians are being forced to work part-time by employers trying to sidestep the law. And Sen. Johnny Isakson, like his colleagues, promised “to repeal and replace Obamacare,” a refrain they have been singing for more than five years now.
Replace it with what, you ask?
They still have no idea. Even in the House Republican and Senate caucuses, Republicans can’t reach a consensus on what to do about health care because reaching that consensus would require that they compromise. And compromise — even compromise with their fellow Republicans — remains too difficult.
You’ve seen and heard the rhetoric. Here are the facts:
- Today, an estimated 16 million more Americans have health insurance than before the law passed. That’s 16,000,000 individuals, each of whom now has access to health care beyond what’s available in a hospital emergency room. Many of those 16 million are working Americans who simply could not afford insurance without help.
- Since Obamacare was signed into law in March 2010, we have created 11.5 million additional jobs and added more than $3 trillion to our gross domestic product, an increase of more than 20 percent. The number of Americans being forced to work part-time hasn’t increased; it has fallen by 2.5 million.
- Repealing Obamacare, including its cost-containment and revenue measures, won’t reduce our national debt. It would increase the federal deficit by more than $300 billion over the next decade, according to a report earlier this month by the Congressional Budget Office. Beyond 2025, repealing Obamacare would make the deficit rise even faster.
- While premiums and health-care costs are rising, they are rising much more slowly than they did before passage of Obamacare. In fact, soaring premiums were a major reason why Obamacare was passed in the first place. Since then, premium increases and overall health-care inflation have been significantly below predicted levels, with the federal government saving billions of dollars as a result.
None of those points is in dispute. None can be contradicted by data. And that’s why you don’t hear data, only apocalyptic rhetoric, from the law’s opponents. They don’t have the facts on their side. And as a conservative-dominated Supreme Court said last week, they also don’t have the law. Without the facts or the law, they are reduced to hollering.
Republicans do have one thing in their favor: They still control the House and Senate. If they want to prove their critics wrong by passing an actual working alternative to Obamacare, they have the theoretical power to do so.
However, I would not advise holding your breath.