Cato’s Tanner sheds light on health care debate

Michael Tanner‘s latest National Review Online column highlights some of the often-ignored realities linked to the health care reform debate.

It has been barely a week since the Republican plan to (sort of) repeal and replace Obamacare was unveiled and already the proposal has been savaged from both left and right, by most of the media, by various interest groups, including doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies, and by virtually anyone else with an opinion. Outside of Paul Ryan, it is hard to find anyone who truly likes this bill. Indeed, in my opinion, this is a deeply flawed bill that perpetuates — and in some cases exacerbates — some of Obamacare’s worst flaws. Still, there are some important things to keep in mind.

1. There will be losers as well as winners. The Republican talking point that everyone will be better off under their proposal is silly and just gives opponents an easy target. Every piece of legislation creates winners and losers. Obamacare did. There were far more losers than winners, but some of those who won under Obamacare will be losers under the Republican plan. …

… 2. There will be more winners than losers. The media coverage of the Congressional Budget Office’s report has focused on the reduction in insurance coverage (more on this below). But the report also showed that premiums would be lower under the GOP plan starting in 2020, about 10 percent lower by 2026. That represents a substantial savings for millions of Americans. …

… 3. No, 14 million people are not having their insurance taken away. Media reports have focused on CBO’s conclusion that there would be 14 million fewer insured Americans next year under the GOP replacement plan, and as many as 25 million fewer by 2027, though more people would still be insured than before Obamacare. Those numbers may or may not be accurate (CBO’s model has consistently relied on a belief that the individual mandate would cause people to sign up for Obamacare, a belief that hasn’t held up in practice), but they are badly misleading. Much of the projected decline in coverage stems from CBO’s belief that, without the individual mandate, many people would choose not to buy insurance. Whether or not that is a wise choice on their part, free people should have the ability to make even unwise choices. That’s not “taking their insurance away,” it is treating people like adults.

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