Appropriate for a new president with a bold agenda, a new chapter in healthcare policy is beginning. And, of course, an old chapter is closing.
The new chapter is about health. The old chapter was about health insurance—and there’s a difference. As argued here at Breitbart many times, health and health insurance are not the same thing. Both health and health insurance are important, but the first is obviously prior to the second.
Moreover, as President Trump demonstrated in his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, the emotional intensity of health, and life, dwarfs that of insurance, and finance. Thus one of the dramatic high points of the evening came when the Commander-in-Chief introduced a young woman who is a living testament to the power of love—and science. In words punctuated by moist eyes and standing ovations, Trump told her story:
An incredible young woman is with us this evening, who should serve as an inspiration to us all. Today is Rare Disease Day, and joining us in the gallery is rare disease survivor, Megan Crowley. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past five.
On receiving this news, Megan’s dad John fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure and helped develop a drug that saved Megan’s life. Megan is 20 years old, and a sophomore at Notre Dame. Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter. But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need. If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA, but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles, just like Megan.
Almost everyone thrills to a story such as that. Of course, we do: The rage to live is within each of us, and so we naturally connect with tales of others’ struggles to do the same. As the President said, citing America’s rich tradition of invention, “Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.”
By contrast, health insurance lends itself less to the exaltation of the human spirit—and more to Kafka-esque nightmares of bureaucratic befuddlement and bamboozlement. Yes, heath insurance is a necessity, but it’s nothing that people naturally want to think about; forms and paperwork are never the subject of an inspiring novel, or an enrapturing movie.
Still, health insurance is an important topic, and Trump talked about it, plenty.
The specific issue of course, was Obamacare. Trump campaigned against the program last year, and repeated those criticisms last night, before many of the Democrats who voted for it in 2009 and 2010. As Trump said, the idea of imposing a personal mandate to buy health insurance—the heart of Obamacare—“was never the right solution for America.”
Never once referring to the program by its formal name, the Affordable Care Act, the President used the word “Obamacare” five times, calling it, among other things, “failing,” “unsustainable,” and “collapsing.” Indeed, with characteristic bravado, as he leveled some of those charges, he was looking Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Queen of Obamacare, right in the eye.
Yet at the same time, Trump kept an even keel. He was careful to say that he wanted to Congress to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. And thus we can observe a key Trump trait: He has a hard-edged style, but, in fact, the substance of his policies is oftentimes moderate. (It was notable, for example, that Trump made no mention of the words “Medicare,” or “Social Security.” Trump has said all along that he wasn’t interested in cutting those programs, despite considerable pressure from some Republicans in Congress. And by his silence Tuesday night, he confirmed his stance yet again; he aims to keep those earned-entitlement programs as they are—and that’s an important signal to the middle class.)
In the meantime, as ably outlined by Breitbart’s Joel Pollak, Trump laid out five guiding principles for Obamacare’s replacement, including some which must have gladdened the hearts of centrists—and maybe even Democrats. The most salient of Trump’s points was a commitment to protecting those with pre-existing conditions from losing their coverage. All the Megan Crowleys of America and their families will be thankful for that.
Yet beyond endorsing tax credits for individuals and interstate competition for insurance across the nation, Trump offered few specifics. That was Classic Trump, always keeping his options open. As he himself has said many times, dealmakers need flexibility.
So what will become of Obamacare? Answer: Nobody quite knows. Trump’s speech was enormously well received—an instant CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans rated it “very” positively, and another 21 percent rated it “somewhat” positively, for an upbeat total of 78 percent—and so that enthusiasm will put wind beneath the wings of all Republicans. Indeed, the next morning, Politico, the Bible of the Beltway, wondered aloud, with a note of worry, “Was this the Trump that could win in 2020?”
Yet still, Congressional GOPers will have a hard Obamacare row to hoe. Those stormy town meetings, centered on the defense of the program, took place just last week, and we can be sure that lefty activists and astroturfers are planning more storms ahead.
Moreover, there’s the sheer complexity of trying to understand, let alone undo, a piece of legislation that numbered 2,700 pages, plus another 20,000 pages of regulation. No re-election minded Republican wants to reassemble a post-Obamacare health-insurance system and discover that vital pieces have been left on the floor.
Indeed, Republican leaders in Congress find themselves in the middle of a three-way squeeze. First, from the left, the Democrats are gunning for them, eager to preserve Obamacare, as is. Second, from the right, no small number of Republicans insist on immediate damn-the-torpedoes action on “repeal.” And third, from a lofty perspective that might be described as upper center-right, there’s the President, encouraging repeal, but insisting, too, on “replace.”
Given that daunting political environment, Capitol Hill GOPers might begin to see the wisdom of Trump’s emphasis on medical cures. After all, a discussion of cures takes one to heartwarming sagas, such as that of Megan Crowley. By contrast, a discussion of health insurance brings forth shudders and nightmares.
So yes, let’s solve the problem of Obamacare, even if that means scuttling through dark tunnels full of technocrats muttering unintelligibly. But then, as quickly as we can, let’s ascend to the sunlit uplands of medical advancement. We’ll be happier there—and healthier.
The President has pointed the way.