By Tuesday, January 3, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi had already introduced a budget resolution aimed at resurrecting Congress’ previous attempt at repealing Obamacare. An attempt vetoed by Obama, of course, last year. A repeal bill is scheduled to be presented by January 27. That’s in a little over 3 weeks, which is at the speed of light, as far as Congressional bill-making is concerned.

On January 15, right in the middle of those two dates, Congressional Democrats are planning rallies against the repeal, to take place around the country apparently. And Wednesday, January 4th, Obama and Pence held dueling meetings in Congress to rally their respective teams around what will be the first big showdown of the 115th Congress, and President Trump’s new administration.

Wedged in between these key dates, is a dusty little ceremony that will take place at the Western Side of the U.S. Capitol. One wonders whether angry protesters dressed as zombie patients will try to disrupt the proceedings along with all the other angry identity-politics groups that feel so offended that America did not vote as they saw fit.

In other words, things are moving very fast with this new Congress and new administration. At least as far as repeal is concerned. Replacing Obamacare, however, is something that will likely be delayed by at least two years, if the rumblings coming from various legislators are any indication. Trump has made this issue his, but the GOP Congress has pushed repeal and replace for much longer.

At the American Enterprise Institute, two healthcare policy wonks, Joseph Antros and James Capretta, have suggested slowing down. Both have been part of the federal healthcare bureaucracy, and their complaint seems to center around how ACA enrollees could be harmed by destabilizing Obamacare, through repeal and a delayed replacement of the ACA. They want to keep the exchanges viable by ensuring funding keeps flowing, and worry that absent the tax penalties meant to enforce compliance, the downward spiral of insurance companies withdrawing from the unprofitable plans, and healthy people staying away in greater numbers with no penalty for doing so, will mean less coverage, more expensive coverage, all for less people.

So, this is different from what is already happening to Obamacare because … ? They make no mention of allowing competition across state lines for example. The view of Antos and Capretta is firmly from within the federally administered world of regulated healthcare. This is hardly out-of-the-box thinking.

But they do make an interesting point. Because repeal will be done through the reconciliation process, it can only affect those parts of Obamacare that have to do with taxes and subsidies or credits. Not the regulations – the detailed requirements that will still be part of what remains of the ACA after repeal. So we will be left with rules that presume – as they put it – the subsidies and mandates (that the tax penalty enforces) without the money to back it up. That means insurance companies will find it even more expensive to remain within the ACA exchanges and will drop out at a faster rate.

And what did Obama have to say to Congress on Wednesday? Avoid talking too much about policy. Talk about the impact on people’s lives. Healthcare is a minefield, it’s true. To score political points, you have to hide the true cost of any subsidized healthcare system – like ACA – and focus on the individual stories of those who gained coverage. Unfortunately, Obamacare is collapsing – whether the GOP repeals it or not – and the costs of Obama’s grand scheme can not be reduced to scare stories. Whatever plan replaces it, that new plan will have to justify its costs to a public that has seen the Affordable Care Act become far less affordable and offer less care than it promised 6 years ago.

You avoid policy, explaining it and showing how it will be paid for, in terms of healthcare at your own peril as Obama is finally realizing. The voting public will have to realize it as well.

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