Let’s take this litany from the top.
“Health care costs too much.”
“Too few have access to it.”
“Medical professionals find the system confounding.”
“Expanding Medicaid scalped taxpayers.”
“Obamacare burdens employers.”
“Choices are too limited.”
Even President Barack Obama issued a rare apology for the broken promise: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
All these arguments were heard and echoed by the Republican Party, which, having captured the White House and both houses of Congress, vowed anew to do something about them.
That something is proving elusive. One reason seems to be that every “fix” to one problem threatens to worsen another.
There are innumerable priorities and choices, with implications for the federal deficit and entitlements in general.
The drawbacks of Obamacare were prominently stated in January by Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon turned politician who now serves as President Donald Trump’s health and human services secretary.
Six months later, all the top politicians in power are showing that they just might not be up to addressing a massive version of the old Catskills gripe that the food is lousy and the portions are small.
On Thursday, discussion centered on an amendment offered by an old Trump foe, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would allow insurers offering plans under Obamacare cheaper, thinner policies.
Perhaps it could win some Senate votes, but it also could alienate others concerned that it could hike premiums for those with pre-existing conditions.
Expected next is a clash of projections to be issued by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Price’s office on who a replacement bill might help or hurt.
In a sign of how things left off last week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was asked about a summary distributed to lobbyists before she had seen the bill.
“I think that as a courtesy to those of us who are actually making the decisions that we would actually have an opportunity to see it first,” the Associated Press quoted her as saying.
Process aside, Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday he’d be “very angry” if Republicans don’t pass the bill before them.
“I don’t even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad,” he said.
But his feelings aren’t the issue for the millions affected — in ways yet to be seen.