Healthcare Reform: The Goldilocks Solution

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Why has it taking so long for Congressional Republicans to pass a law to repeal and reform Obamacare? They would all agree that not just any plan that lowers taxes paid by the rich and cuts healthcare benefits for the poor the sick, and the elderly will meet our nation’s needs with big Medicare benefits and medicaid benefits being cut. And like Goldilocks, they are searching for something that is “just right.”

It has taken all three of our political wise men to shape such a law. House Speaker Paul Ryan, with an occasional assist from President Donald Trump, finally succeeded in persuading a bare majority of House Republicans to pass a repeal and reform bill. Although it was strongly endorsed by the President, he would soon confide to Senate Republicans that the bill was actually “mean.”
Now, under the firm leadership of the third wise man, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a group of Republican Senators has written a bill largely modeled on the provisions of the House bill, although perhaps sufficiently “less mean.”
Interestingly, a gang of four relatively conservative Republican Senators, Rand Paul (KY), Mike Lee (UT), Ted Cruz (TX), and Ron Johnson (WI), at least initially decided that this Senate plan was not just right. Or, more specifically, insufficiently mean.
At the other end of the Republican Senatorial political spectrum, Dean Heller (NV) and Rob Portman (OH) are most concerned with cuts to Medicaid benefits, while Susan Collins (ME) is unhappy with possible cuts to Medicare benefits.
It would appear that even the least mean bill that has been considered would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their healthcare insurance coverage, eventually resulting in a declining quality of life and shortened lives.
But is it fair to call upon the more affluent among us to continue paying high taxes to subsidize the medical costs of these less fortunate individuals? Perhaps a modern-day Marie Antoinette will come to the rescue. When told that the poor can no longer afford adequate medical care, she will advise them to go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Over the next week or so, the healthcare bill debated among Senate Republicans will settle one question: What degree of meanness will be just right?
Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and has written sixteen math and economics books, including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books) due out in August 2017.

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