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June 10, 2013

HOWEY: ‘Tweak and adapt’


Republicans talk about electing their nominee as president in 2016, along with a GOP Congress, setting the stage for repeal. But even in that scenario, the massive changes going on right now in all sectors associated with health care will be in the process of adapting to the new dynamic. It will likely be too disruptive to lurch from Obamacare to … what? The way things were before, when a catastrophic illness could bankrupt a family? When businesses small and large, and local governments were facing skyrocketing health care costs at budget time each year?

Those were not the good old days.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, many of us were heartened that someone like Barack Obama was willing to campaign on the idea of health care reform. As 2010 approached, I watched with considerable consternation how the Affordable Care Act went from the five or six basic principles to the sprawling legislation it became. You can Google me and not find a single column endorsing the final product that President Obama signed in March 2010.

As a columnist and individual, I aligned more with U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, who suggested during the process that the legislation be broken up into five or six pieces: The ones that everyone seemed to agree on like allowing people with pre-existing conditions to obtain insurance, leaving the final bill as the one to hammer out the more contentious parts.

I would have preferred the more market-based solutions that many Republicans had espoused, a more consumer-driven approach that emphasized wellness, health savings accounts, tort reform and opening up markets across state lines.

If those of you had expended the same type of energy and vigor you do against Obamacare to motivating Republicans to install those reforms, we would probably be better off. That was an epic, missed opportunity for which President George W. Bush, White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels, Congressional Republicans down to party activists here in the heartland all bear responsibility.

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