Conservatives Win Big with House Healthcare Plan

by John Fredericks

Virginia conservatives – and the Trump Administration – should embrace the health care plan rolled out this week by House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights. The House budget includes a plan to bring billions in taxpayer dollars back to Virginia to help uninsured Virginians get health care coverage through Medicaid Expansion.

For four years, I sang a different tune. I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow conservatives at Americans for Prosperity, former Speaker Bill Howell, and other Republicans to fight Medicaid Expansion.

At the time, the future of the Affordable Care Act seemed uncertain, and banking on its promises appeared financially risky. There were fears it would collapse, or be repealed, leaving states to pay for a huge new entitlement we couldn’t afford. That seemed like an unsafe bet for Virginia.

That all changed in 2017.

Today, I unequivocally support the House plan to expand Medicaid to hardworking families in Virginia. Here’s why:

Obamacare isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. After years of trying, Congressional Republicans showed us in 2017 they couldn’t repeal the law. And even if they try again, which seems unlikely, it’s doubtful they will be successful this year or beyond.

In addition to lacking votes, federal Republicans last year showed us they’ve never had anything approximating a viable replacement plan after years of making empty promises to constituents in fund-raising letters. In other words, they misled us.

The most shocking realization came last spring at a White House briefing on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. I sat the in briefing room aghast at what I heard – the GOP plan rewarded GOP states that expanded Medicaid (like Indiana, Ohio, and Arkansas) with continued funding, and penalized states that resisted expansion by cutting their funding through reduced block grants.

Instead of benefiting from being a prudent holdout, Virginia would have received less Medicaid funding from Washington! Thanks for nothing.

While it’s easy enough to retreat into orthodox ideology in the face of complex policy decisions that don’t fit into neat partisan boxes, I prefer to deal in reality rather than bury my head in the sand.

The House of Delegates budget plan takes the same clear-eyed, reality-based approach by opting to work with President Trump to secure key conservative reforms such as work rules and personal responsibility standards.

Let’s be honest, this is a plan many Democrats won’t like. If you’re a Republican, that means you’re doing something right. You’re reforming a program rather than just providing a handout.

Speaker Cox is developing a plan incorporating conservative ideals like those Vice President Mike Pence championed when he was Governor of Indiana.

In my mind, if it’s good enough for a conservative like Mike Pence and Indiana, then it’s good enough for Virginia.

Speaker Cox undoubtedly will face misguided criticism from those who can’t see past the politics of the moment. It’s better to have Speaker Cox negotiating the details with Democratic Governor Ralph Northam now than waiting too long and ending up with Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, driving the talks.

Because make no mistake: Many Democrats want straightforward Medicaid expansion, or worse – Bernie Sanders-style socialized healthcare.

The GOP-controlled House is taking the conservative approach to health-care reform and will work with the Trump administration to achieve that goal.

The House plan aims to put low-income Virginians in private insurance plans with premiums and co-pays, giving them skin in the game. The plan sets up health savings accounts so people are incentivized to make their own health-care decisions. And, most importantly, they’ve created a “Training, Education, and Employment Opportunity” program to put people on a path to self-sufficiency.

Another big win: they’ve put the Trump administration – not Northam – in the driver’s seat. The Trump administration controls the timing and conditions under which Virginia can access new health-care funding to expand. And with a Pence ally now in charge of the nation’s Medicaid system, conservatives can rest assured Virginia will get the reforms it needs to control costs and protect taxpayers.

As conservatives, we should also remember many of the people who will benefit are Trump voters who are working their tails off at low wages, just trying to move up the economic ladder and get a better life. I, for one, won’t kick them to the curb to pass an ideological litmus test written in a white paper by some D.C. think tank.

For years, Republicans held the line against Obamacare expansion. It was the right thing to do. But now, under Cox’s leadership, the House is taking advantage of Trump’s historic presidency to implement real reforms to how Virginia delivers health-care. This is a plan conservatives — and Trump supporters — should embrace.

And it’s a winning issue for the next election. A recent Republican poll showed that 83 percent of Virginia voters favor health-care coverage for the uninsured.

With Virginia Republicans having lost 10 statewide races in a row, you do the math.

John Fredericks hosts The John Fredericks Show, a conservative talk radio show.

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7 responses to “Conservatives Win Big with House Healthcare Plan

  1. Wow.. talk about a major SPIN!!!

    but here’s the thing… the GOP.. DID get rid of the individual mandate and the re-insurance subsidies for the insurance companies that took on too many older/sicker – such that insurance companies pulled out in droves and in some places there are no insurers and others – just one – like in the Fredericksburg area where only one insurer is left – Kaiser Permanente …

    So.. it’s not like the GOP did not truly damage Obamacare and claimed over and over and repeated in this very Blog the phrase “death spiral”.

    so NOW.. to turn about face… and claim they’re going to support it after all is grade A BULLFEATHERS!

    Let’s face it .. the GOP is not only feckless but hypocritical to the HILT and has excuses out the wazoo to cover up!

    Why I BET even Crazy and TMT will agree with that!!!

    The GOP remains unprincipled as much as they are partisan.

    Talk about FLIP FLOPS!

  2. So how much are taxpayers paying out a billion dollar “to big to fail” healthcare industry that puts millions into lobbying?

  3. the GOP along with their supporters.. has bailed from their “we don’t want no stinkin GOvt health care”..schtick…

    All this blather about not giving “free” health care to “takers”…

    geeze

    nothing has changed! It’s the very SAME MedicAid Expansion that has existed for the past 3 years… so what is different ?

    GAWD.. how many Blog Posts has Jim Bacon authored over the last 3 years regaling us with all the reasons that the MedicAid Expansion is a “fail”?

    Come on folks.. TMT.. others.. who have staunchly opposed the MedicAid Expansion.. tell us how you think now?

    Do you feel betrayed by the GOP?

  4. What’s really interesting me, and I’ve seen the same phenomenon now with the argument over the Dominion Deregulation Bill, is the emergence of this GOP-leaning communications network. Bacon, Bearing Drift, The Republican Standard, trading articles like the AP trying to create an echo chamber, and an obvious counterpoint to the liberal examples (mainly Blue Virginia). TRS and Blue Virginia use the same platform, obviously, and look amazingly alike. It ties into the other posting about what comes next as traditional news organizations die. But as interesting as they can be, and useful in reaching an audience, they are not news organizations – not at all – and indeed the label Fake News fully applies to the extent they pass themselves off as news organizations (which mostly they do not.)

    And yes, Larry, major spin. But I suspect backed up with some serious polling (and some navel gazing after being shellacked at the polls in November.) Could the thousand-points-of-light wing of Republicans be coming back into vogue? Or do they just want to find some other issue to fight during the Battle of 2019. Preventing poor people from getting a doctor’s visit or a heart surgery – when the money was just sitting there – does not strike me as a hill they wanted to die on. (But I still don’t see a hill they can live on, certainly pandering to Dominion is not that hill.)

  5. re: ” not a hill they want to die on”..

    but the MedicAid Expansion thing has not changed.. it’s the same one that was offered to Virginia – years ago – and adamantly rejected… and the reasons to oppose it – those reasons STILL exist!

    So what changed?

    It did not bother the GOP before that they would watch poor people die for lack of access to a doctor or heart surgery.

    In fact – if you look at Fairfax county alone – it has the same life expectancy as Japan.

    But if you look at RoVa where employer-insurance is not as common as NoVa – people die at rates more like 3rd world countries that don’t have access to health care.

    When you ADD together the life expectancy of places like NoVa with RoVa – we end up at the bottom of the pack of industrialized nations just above the less developed nations – except we pay twice as much.

    For Conservatives – it’s always been about not giving people who don’t deserve it – health care.

    Right?

    So what has changed? Most of the ones I know and comment in this blog – STILL feel that way.

    So that’s why I ask – if the GOP in the VA GA still has their traditional Conservative supporters – are they not betraying their constituents?

  6. Steve, I agree with Larry, but to me the most important thing Mr. Fredericks says here (for the first time that I’ve seen at least) is this: “In addition to lacking votes, federal Republicans last year showed us they’ve never had anything approximating a viable replacement plan after years of making empty promises to constituents in fund-raising letters.”

    Wow — someone on the right finally said it! That’s been the problem all along: If not Obamacare, then WHAT? Republicans have been locked in “opposition mode” for far too long. Combined with the fact that Republicans generally want smaller government, this attitude has painted moderate conservatives into a corner. What if, for example, you believe the basic premise of universal health care as a component of the social safety net was decided in the 1960s; that today, 50 years later, it’s the quality of care and financial transparency of health delivery that are so lacking and so badly need reform — yet the political debate continues to be dominated by wrongheaded attempts to slash insurance eligibility?

    If Mr. Fredericks truly believes the Republicans have no alternative plan, then he’d better try to make what we have today work as well as it can. That “individual mandate” repeal for example: take away insurance pooling and the consequences are predictable, certain, and politically devastating: 1. There will be higher insurance prices for those posing higher insurance risks. 2. In thinly populated areas with a higher proportion of elderly, this will lead to an accelerated “death spiral” of insurance prices. And, 3. this will result in many more young people who choose to remain uninsured but end up in the hospital anyway. The certain backlash from those three developments alone will lead to greatly increased political pressure to adopt universal single-payer (government) health insurance — is that really what any good conservative wants?

    By undermining Obamacare — at least until there is a comprehensive plan to replace it with something better — you are guaranteeing Sanders-care.

  7. Yes, not only did Washington Republicans fail to “repeal” but they were shown to have no viable way to “replace” beyond some nibbles at the edges. My problem is the Sanders-care third party payer approach is starting to look better and better as a choice between various terrible outcomes as our current set up continues to fall apart.

    The division within the GOP legislators yesterday, with 32 of 51 House members voting against their own leader’s budget, is a telling sign of the earthquake underway. And one speech that had my attention was given by Senator Steve Newman, pointing out there is the acceptance of the wider eligibility for Medicaid, and then there is the “provider assessment”, a hospital tax that generates revenue simply for the federal funds it draws like a magnet. He stressed the distinction between the two issues. Somewhere I still have a lapel button “no sick tax” from when Gov. Wilder had the same approach. If the Senate R’s dig in on that defensive line, this battle is just starting.

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