Shooting for small success first could be key to GOP health care overhaul

Though the intent was good in the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the proposal itself was full of flaws. That very thing is what killed it.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, with President Donald Trump’s backing, proposed a bill that would have addressed just about every single one of the thousands of pieces of Obamacare. Because it was a comprehensive bill, there was something in it for just about everyone to hate.

Why not tackle the task piecemeal?

For example, a bill ensuring health insurance companies can compete across state lines would do an enormous amount of good. In all likelihood, it would receive enough support to be enacted.

Another bill giving states more flexibility in how they administer Medicaid could serve beneficiaries as well as state and federal taxpayers well. Less-wealthy states such could be permitted to offer pared-down benefits packages. Proposals to make beneficiaries more responsible for their own good health could be included. Again, what in that suggestion is not to like for a conservative?

Of course, there are big issues that need to be addressed. One of them is the cost of the Medicaid expansion included in Obamacare. Another is whether Americans should be penalized for not buying insurance that meets government specifications.

Why not tackle the less controversial, smaller issues where success is more likely first? Why not establish a pattern of problem-solving success and — dare we suggest it? — cooperation that could serve as a springboard for taking on the bigger obstacles?

Democrats point with glee to failure of the GOP plan. They were able to get Obamacare done, the Democrats note.

But that was a time when Democrats willing to learn what was in a bill after they passed it voted as a bloc. Now, with more awareness of their many mistakes, calls for a different approach.

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