- - Thursday, July 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What’s missing in the Senate these days is boldness, the kind needed to take action on health care — repealing Obamacare, stabilizing the individual insurance markets, and giving states greater flexibility to shape their own healthcare systems.

But because some Republican senators are scared of taking any political risk by supporting the Better Care Act, they are willing to live with Obamacare as the status quo and to let the individual-insurance market collapse. Conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah thinks the bill does not go far enough, while the moderates think the bill goes too far.

Their inability to find common ground is infuriating for voters who supported Republicans in the midterm elections and in 2016. Their mandate is to lead, not to shy away from tough decisions. The risk is even greater for Republicans who, despite Senate leadership’s efforts, are now proving that they have a difficult time governing and making significant changes to our healthcare system.

As of this week, GOP senators and staff are unsure what will happen when the Senate takes up the House-passed bill next week. Some are slightly hopeful that the GOP can pass the bill with amendments, but it will be an uphill battle.

If the bill fails, it’s not President Trump who takes the blame; it will be the Senate Republicans. The president has already signaled that he is ready to sign the GOP bill — he wants a legislative victory, and he wants it now. The pressure is on GOP senators to make this happen or suffer the political backlash.

And while the Republicans stumble and continue the infighting, the watching Democrats claim victory.

Despite his suggestion to let Obamacare fail (not a viable option), Mr. Trump is right in suggesting that the Senate should stay in Washington during August and finish the bill. The American people want action and results, and the GOP now owns fixing Obamacare’s failures. The fixes might not be perfect, but there is an immediate need to stop the individual markets from collapsing across the country and to slow down the rise of premiums.

Unfortunately, real entitlement reform will likely be shoved aside or weakened in the bill to get the moderates on board. Under Obamacare, Medicaid has expanded where millions of able-bodied adults are now enrolled in this entitlement program originally created for the poor and disabled.

There is a desperate need to create greater competition among insurance companies and more health-care options that will lower prices and let consumers shop for the best insurance for themselves and their families. Either the government reduces its role in our health care system or the future will be a single-payer system where government — not the consumer — is in charge.

Republicans lived in safe space when they repealed Obamacare in 2015 knowing that President Obama would veto their bill. Now it’s time to show true strength and leadership in fixing the Obamacare mess that they inherited. Senate Democrats know that Obamacare is in trouble and they are only hoping for minor tweaks and more bailout money for the insurance companies. They want more entitlement expansion and more government spending. They want a federal government — not the free market — in charge of our health-care system.

Only the GOP can stop the further encroachment of government into our health care, and to that end, the time to govern and be bold is now.

• Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

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