Abandon Ship: A New Healthcare Playbook for the GOP

Dear GOP,

Your sales pitch to the American people is entirely wrong. The way I see it, “Obamacare” is the Titanic. At this point, it has already struck the iceberg, it is rapidly taking on water, and you can’t sell the American people (the passengers) a raft. It is pathetic.

You have given the Democrats the ability to control the narrative by failing to realize the game has changed. When President Obama was in office, you had the right strategy: fire up the Republican base and mobilize them by connecting the massive new entitlement to Obama, who was probably one of the least popular presidents ever in the eyes of conservatives. Hence the name “Obamacare.”

Note: I didn’t do the research on this point. There aren’t exactly any neat charts immediately available. One would have to go through the public opinion polls of every president and hope they asked the sample population of the poll if they “identify as conservative.” If somebody wants to fact check me, knock yourselves out…

That was smart, but it isn’t anymore.  When Trump won the 2016 election, the old game got flipped on its head. The old playbook is no longer adequate. The electorate has changed, and your politics must also if you intend to keep the majority and reverse the new progressive era policies of Barack Obama.

You have everything that you need to succeed in this debate. For starters, you aren’t wrong. “Obamacare” has failed to meet its primary objective: to make healthcare more affordable. There are tons of reports out there of skyrocketing premiums and insurers leaving “Obamacare” exchanges, so I’m not going to present that here. If this is news to anybody out there, just google “obamacare premium increases” or “insurers pulling out (or leaving) exchanges.” These are facts readily available in the public domain. There is no debate to be had there as far as I’m concerned. Obamacare is going to get worse each year it is allowed to remain. As premiums rise, more young and healthy people will opt out of the exchanges and take the penalty. This will force insurers to abandon exchanges, as the cost of covering the people with pre-existing conditions at rates capped by the “Obamacare” legislation will make the industry unprofitable. This will lead to monopoly pricing where only the largest insurers reside, which is a disaster for those who “Obamacare” was supposed to help. So this has to get done, and sooner is better than later.

But let’s be real. That isn’t going to happen. Liberalism has a major competitive advantage in legislative momentum. Government has essentially headed in one direction (expansion) for most of American history, with a few speed bumps along the way. When the they look back on the dusty history of the United States, it is going to be a story about a road to hell paved with good intentions. Once an entitlement is created, it is very difficult to ever remove it. People become dependent on those services. When you try to remove it, the left argues that you are stealing from the poor. But what happens when the government writes checks they can’t cash with entitlement promises? When the 2008 financial crisis struck, the left was pointing the finger at Wall Street and the “predatory lenders” of the mortgage banking industry. You see? When the private sector gives the population something they can’t afford (subprime mortgages), it is the private sector’s fault when that system collapses (I don’t remember the federal government shedding jobs like the private sector did)… regardless of the GSEs undeniable influence in the housing market deformations. Now let me extend that logic to healthcare. When government promises a service that the public can’t afford (Obamacare), and that leads to systemic collapse (insurers abandoning exchanges and premiums skyrocketing), whose fault is it? Of course, it is the governments fault. They promised something they couldn’t ever realistically deliver, and what is the solution to this government created problem? MORE GOVERNMENT! I don’t remember people demanding an expansion of the role of Wall Street or the Mortgage Banking sectors when the housing market collapsed? Obamacare was a Trojan Horse. The entire system was dependent on young healthy people getting gouged at the exchange for services they did not need. Those individuals being overcharged would subsidize those with preexisting conditions. If they chose not to get gouged for services that they did not need, they could just take the “penalty.” The tax penalty was the keystone of the entire legislation. It was never high enough to get the number of young people into the insurance pools required to maintain the solvency of the system. The result is what we have now. The fix to the Obamacare model would be a tax penalty large enough to scare young people into buying insurance. Under current legislation, you could roll the dice, take the penalty, and then sign up for Obamacare if something ever went wrong… BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT TURN YOU DOWN FOR PREEXISTING CONDITIONS. Problem is, the tax penalty being what it is was likely necessary for it to survive SCOTUS scrutiny. Would the Supreme Court allow the government to define Obamacare as a “tax” if the tax were actually high enough to FORCE individuals to buy insurance?

HOW TO WIN THE HEALTHCARE PR WAR

The changing electorate I referred to earlier is the PTSD liberal voting block. Donald Trump is the worst thing that has ever happened to them and their fictitious world they have recently constructed around themselves. Nothing substantial has changed since Trump took the oath of office, but it feels like it has to these people. I’m willing to bet there are a whole lot of these PTSD liberals who have never needed to shop for health insurance through an Obamacare exchange. I bet there are many who are still on their parent’s health plans, they work for the government, or they take the tax “penalty” because they actually can’t afford the insurance. The only people who have benefited from this healthcare evolution are those who are being subsidized. Many of these people voted for Bernie Sanders. They don’t even like “Obamacare,” they want universal care. So who out there actually likes Obamacare? I think the uptick in popularity is purely a reaction to fear mongering. The Democrats are going back to their sob stories of impending doom if the legislation were to be repealed, as if people were dying by the millions due to a lack of insurance all the way back in 2013!!!!!!!!!

To date, the GOP has allowed this card to be played. The GOP somehow appears to be caught like a deer in headlights, paralyzed in their response to the obvious play by the Democrats. Obamacare is somehow rising in the public opinion polls while at the same time financially collapsing in numerous exchanges throughout the country. How can this be?

Rest assured. I have the answer.

Here is the new playbook: It is unbelievably simple, and it should be implemented immediately (Recess will be a good time to start):

1) STOP TALKING ABOUT OBAMA. This includes the elimination of any political branding such as “Obamacare.”

They were polling the differences in opinion when switching between the use of the terminology “Obamacare” and the “Affordable Care Act” back in 2013: What’s in a name? Lots when it comes to Obamacare/ACA. I’m betting that re-branding the legislation could change opinion numbers again if sold properly.

PTSD Liberal America is latching on to their idea of the golden days of America when Obama was their politically correct, legitimately elected hero. The branding of “Obamacare” is now working against conservatives who actually want to address the healthcare problem. Any mentioning of “Obama” triggers the #Resistance in every one of these people. That is the fuel that an imploding Democratic Party is completely dependent on using to obstruct any and all conservative policy changes. You won the election, and now you must change your politics. The future of this administration depends on it. I think that if every Republican on the Hill started using a targeted talking point about the cost of Health care, they can win the public opinion war.

Note: Whether or not the current GOP health plan is the answer to our problems is not the focus here. I personally believe that the federal government does not belong in the health insurance business, and therefore I could not support the current GOP plan as it exists. This strategy is simply a way to win the PR war against the entitlement dependent sob stories.

which brings me to my next point…

2) START REFERRING TO “OBAMACARE” AS THE “UN-AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.” 

If every Republican on the Hill abandoned the term “Obamacare,” and structured the entire debate around the collapsing exchanges and rising premiums, I bet there would be swing state Democrats that would be forced to retreat from the partisan trenches heading into midterms (assuming they intend to keep their jobs). The “Un-Affordable Care Act” would likely drive up the negatives in public opinion. “Obamacare” has a negative connotation for conservatives, but there is a reason why President Obama himself began referring to the legislation as “Obamacare.” Barack Obama is the only brand name that unifies the liberal base right now. The GOP needs to take advantage of the the leftist fracture from the Democratic base. STOP GIVING THEM UNIFYING AMMUNITION.

3) DO NOT REFER TO THE REPLACEMENT (if there even is a viable replacement) AS “TRUMPCARE”

His brand is toxic in politics. Do not attempt to put the president’s name on anything that requires national support to pass.

4) GO ON THE OFFENSIVE

Make a bunch of simple charts that any layman can understand regarding the costs of the “Un-Affordable Care Act.” Hit the media hard. Go on every prime time partisan program you can get on, and bring the charts with you. Find people with Obamacare nightmare stories, and give them a microphone. Go find the business owners that have been ruined by Obamacare taxes. Oh, and make a website with all of this data neatly organized for public consumption.

That’s it.

The Democrats will bring up every individual who is going to lose insurance, and potentially the consequences of that. Nobody wants anybody to die, but that is how they will spin it. Don’t allow them to drive the narrative. They claim that people are going to die if the “Un-Affordable Care Act” is repealed? Well what is going to happen if we don’t repeal it? This is the pitch that needs to find its way to the airwaves.

But the system is broken. I don’t have a lot of faith that we can make the correct choices as a large, deeply divided republic. Cue the violins.

obamacare

sincerely,

-An American Citizen

 

 

 

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