MURDOCK: Lesson from Ohio: Kill, replace Obamacare

Even left-wing unionists voted to repeal it

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By a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent on Tuesday, energized Democrats and their big-labor comrades rejected Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich’s limits on union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining privileges. But this solid liberal win could not prevent the left’s simultaneous defeat on Obamacare. By a much wider margin of 66 percent to 34 percent, these same union-heavy voters chose to immunize Ohioans from the individual mandate that is the beating heart of Obamacare.

This dramatic rebuke illustrates just how deeply Americans disdain the 2,801-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Conservatives should use this huge victory to cure the Obamacare infection before it further sickens America. The GOP House quickly should adopt and transmit to the Senate a bill to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a pro-patient, market-friendly substitute.

This repeal-and-replace strategy, which Republicans should have implemented upon securing the House, annihilates the left’s shopworn but accurate claim that Republicans hate Obamacare, but at least Democrats have a plan. This is fair criticism. Think-tank scholars - from the Heritage Foundation to the Cato, Galen and Pacific Research institutes - have offered patient-centered health care reforms for decades. Thoughtful conservative legislators also have introduced ideas on Capitol Hill.

Washington Republicans nevertheless have been unwilling or unable to lock themselves in a hotel ballroom and devise a single plan as the official GOP alternative to Obamacare. Lacking a proposal around which Republicans and their limited-government allies could coalesce, the right rightfully hammered Obamacare but never offered its own coherent package. Lesson: Never try to defeat something with nothing.

Rep. Tom Price’s Empowering Patient First Act could fill that vacuum.

H.R. 3000, authored by this Republican orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, would take the gargantuan, self-contradictory, $2.5 trillion Obamacare catastrophe and dump it like a ton of medical waste. Among H.R. 3000’s features:

  • Individuals could own, control and transport their health policies throughout their careers.
  • Americans could buy insurance across state lines.
  • Civic associations could offer plans. Imagine Kiwanis Care, or Bruin Health for UCLA alumni.
  • Employers could more easily give discounts to clean-living employees.
  • Lawsuit reform would cut malpractice-insurance expenses and costly defensive medicine.

“Over the past year-and-a-half we have seen plenty of signs that President Obama’s health care bill will be every bit the disaster we warned it would be when the then-Democrat majority jammed the bill through the last Congress,” Dr. Price said. “Patient-centered, positive solutions are at the core of moving our nation in the right direction. This bill does just that.”

H.R. 3000 is good policy and good politics.

As former Senate aide Jim Guirard of Washington’s True Speak Institute has observed: “Any Democrat senators who voted quite safely against repeal without replacement suddenly will find it quite dangerous to stick to the death with increasingly unpopular Obamacare - and get caught voting simultaneously against a demonstrably superior and far more popular replacement measure.”

Mr. Guirard added: “This between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place situation will apply to not only the 23 Democrats who now face re-election, but also to the 20 more whose terms end in 2014. These 43 Senate Democrats will not want Obama’s signature legislation to bury them beneath pink-slip signatures from millions of angry voters who decide to end perhaps 15 to 20 left-wing senatorial careers in the next two elections.”

“Tuesday’s vote was a major victory not only for Ohioans, but also for all who care about liberty, freedom, and choice in their health care decisions,” said Heather Higgins, president of Independent Women’s Voice, which promoted this ballot proposal. “No doubt, there is bipartisan demand to reverse Obamacare.”

Propelled by about 17,000 volunteers and $30 million of big labor’s campaign cash, pro-union Ohioans marched to the polls. They voted overwhelmingly with union officials. And then they flushed Obamacare down the toilet. This demonstrates just how widely this new law is hated. Congressional Republicans would do themselves and America a service by fighting simultaneously to repeal and replace it.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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