Senate Republicans are planning to vote on their version of the long-awaited health-care replacement bill as early as next week; this is the latest development in the contentious process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act. The unveiling of the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" sets up another showdown of competing narratives: ACA supporters will accuse Republicans of cutting coverage and reducing benefits and the GOP will point to a flawed system that is losing insurers and forcing double-digit premium increases on families across the country.
This face-off is nothing new. The conversation has played out repeatedly over the past six months. But one thing no one seems to be talking about is that Republicans are the only ones attempting to address the rising costs, declining quality of coverage, and increasing lack of choice in the health-care marketplace.
Democrats seem to be content with the status quo of the Affordable Care Act. Premium and deductible costs are rising and choice and competition are decreasing. As of now, over 1,200 counties will have only one insurance provider available on the individual market next year, and 35,000 individuals will live in counties with no options available at all. These numbers are expected to increase as insurers finalize their 2018 plans in the upcoming weeks, and yet, Democratic lawmakers have not introduced any major legislation to try and fix the system. They have taken the easy way out: showboating and complaining instead of working on a solution to stabilize the health-insurance market.
Liberals often accuse the GOP of intentional sabotage, but premiums were increasing and insurers were fleeing long before the GOP victories of last November 8. If Democrats are worried about the effects of the replacement plan, they should be proposing their own ideas, not just placing blame. Symbolic protests and legislative obstruction might play well in Washington, D.C., but they do nothing for the families all across the country being crushed by the consequences of the ACA. Republican messaging to date has focused only on the collapsing marketplace; it must also emphasize that Democrats have done nothing to improve Obamacare.