By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

New numbers on healthcare costs highlight, yet again, how much of a dereliction of duty it will be if congressional Republicans don’t take another crack this year at replacing Obamacare.

The Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday that premiums for the basic Obamacare plan will rise 15 percent next year, despite overall price inflation in the rest of the economy remaining at or below 2 percent.

The huge price hikes will not be a one-time thing, either. “Going forward, the agency projects premiums will increase an average of 10% a year between 2019 and 2023 and then 5% annually between 2024 and 2028,” reported CNN.

And this comes on top of whopping premium hikes averaging 25 percent in 2017 and 34 percent in 2018. These cost increases are not just unsustainable, but arguably immoral. Public policy that allows, or even drives, such repeatedly unsustainable costs for healthcare is public policy which fails every test of competence and decency.

Yet congressional leaders (especially in the Senate), burned by last year’s epic failures to pass reforms for the failed Obamacare system, are completely ignoring the issue. This is political cowardice in its rawest form.

In 2017, reform efforts effectively fell just one vote short on several occasions. Falling one short shouldn’t mean the job is undoable; it means victory is almost achieved.

As I’ve reported this year twice before, there is good reason to believe that a system of block grants plus vastly expanded health savings accounts, opt-out plans for individuals, and funds dedicated to the states for patients facing the greatest health challenges can both work better in practice than Obamacare and secure the votes needed for Senate passage.

The open process being used in this year’s effort should meet the procedural concerns duly and wisely expressed last year by Sen. John McCain (or his replacement if the Arizona Republican chooses to retire), while a new formula assuring Medicaid-expansion states that they won’t losemoney in the early years of the block-grant system should reassure moderate Republicans such as Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine…..

[The rest is here.]


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