Mitch McConnell’s appearance on Fox News Sunday was remarkably revealing — it showed as clearly as you could want that the Supreme Court decision is finally forcing Republicans to declare what, exactly, they would replace Obamacare with if they realize their goal of repealing it entirely.
Pressed by Chris Wallace to say what he would do to insure the 30 million people who will get insurance under Obamacare, McConnell at first dodged the question, instead launching into a litany of complaints about the law. He repeated the debunked claim that it would cut $500 billion from Medicare. Asked the question again by Wallace, McConnell actually laughed and said he’d “get to it in a minute,” before claiming the best thing we can do for the health system overall is to get rid of the law and all of its “cuts” to health providers. He labeled Obamacare a “monstrosity” and vowed that there would not be a “2,700-page” Republican reform bill.
Asked a third time how Republicans would insure those 30 million people, McConnell said: “That is not the issue. The question is how you can go step by step to improve the American healthcare system.”
The most charitable reading of McConnell’s quote is that he meant that Republicans see no need to come up with a single overarching reform plan that would cover those millions of uninsured, and instead will advocate a step-by-step approach. But even Wallace saw McConnell’s quote in far less charitable terms:
WALLACE: “You don’t think the 30 million people who are uninsured is an issue?”
McCONNELL: “Let me tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to turn the American healthcare system into a Western European system.”
This is basically Mitt Romney’s position, too. Romney would not guarantee coverage across the board for people with preexisting conditions, and his alternatives would not emphasize covering the uninsured. Republicans want to keep the focus on Obamacare as a generalized “monstrosity.” But the Supreme Court has enshrined this “monstrosity” as constitutional. So Republicans will no longer be able to avoid discussing what the law’s specifics would actually do for people — and what Republicans would replace them with, if anything.