- - Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some things are worth an extra wait. Better health care could be one of them. Voters are about to see whether Obamacare repeal-and-replace is finally ready for prime time. If congressional Republicans who couldn’t find common ground to pass the American Health Care Act a month ago can do it now, a major drag on President Trump’s first hundred days won’t be a drag on the second hundred. It would tell the Democrats, loud and clear, that resistance and insurrection are not working.

The endorsement of the House Freedom Caucus gives the Trump administration the second chance to redeem its campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare before it collapses in ruins. The House Freedom Caucus was persuaded by an amendment to the replacement plan that enables states to escape a raft of Obamacare insurance requirements. With 30 or so conservatives promising now to back the Republican leadership’s bill, a House majority seems to be within reach.

But some cranky Republicans are still holding out for a better deal. They’re like the surfer bobbing endlessly on his board, passing up wave after wave on the off-chance the next breaker might be the perfect one. At some point a pretty good ride beats the great one that never arrives.

Choice is the better way, and with the new revisions each state would be able to decide whether to offer Obamacare’s “essential” benefits and community rating system, which mandated an array of coverages for all consumers to get an established price regardless of health conditions. Middle of the road Republicans balked at the bill’s earlier version when the Congressional Budget Office forecast that once the individual mandate is lifted, 24 million Americans would gamble on going without health care coverage.

The revised legislation eliminates another sticking point: how to prevent consumers with pre-existing health problems from facing premiums that would leave them broke. A $130 billion high-risk pool is proposed to help offset their medical expenses.

Democrats have made thwarting efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare the central element of their resistance to the success of the Trump presidency. But as the government-regulated heath insurance scheme spirals toward insolvency and ruin, they offer no solutions but a taxpayer bailout, which is no solution at all. With the prospect of a $10 trillion ocean of red ink that would be called Lake Obama, voters rejected bankruptcy and chose Donald Trump.

It’s in the Republican caucus alone that House Speaker Paul Ryan and his lieutenants search for the 216 votes needed for victory. Carrying a full-to-the-brim bowl of soup to the supper table, a small stumble right or left means a spill. Each tweak of the details picks up a few more votes but risks losing a few others. With a margin for error of only 22 Republican votes, it’s a supreme test of Mr. Ryan’s competency.

With the Trump presidency moving into the second hundred days, a chance to win “bigly” is tantalizingly close. Repeal and replace is what Mr. Trump needs to get his agenda rolling. More important, it’s what the nation needs to shake off the heavy hand of oppressive government and re-establish the place where individual choice is honored. And it’s what the Grand Old Party needs to stay grand.

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