The House of Representatives last week postponed voting to gut Obamacare after new provisions weakening the essential benefits guarantee failed to win support from right-wing Republicans, who are opposed to any form of subsidized health insurance.
Suffice it to say that the last-minute maneuvering clarified how far the modern Republican Party is willing to go in undermining health insurance, and the healthcare system along with it.
They want to do away with major medical insurance, and return to the 1950s when most people only had hospital insurance, or what we now call catastrophic coverage.
This is not conservative in the institution-preserving sense of 18th century British statesman Edmund Burke, who is considered the father of conservatism. Nor is it the practical politics that even very conservative Republicans practiced until about the mid-1990s.
What we're seeing today is an extreme brand of reactionary politics, defined by Wikipedia as a person or movement that “holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society.”
I would prefer spending the space I'm offered each week opining about value-based reimbursement, population health, dealing with the behavioral health and substance abuse crises (this week's cover story), or tackling the social determinants of health.
But the election results of 2016 put a person in the White House who appears to neither care nor understand any of those issues (“it's complicated”). That empowered the most reactionary members of Congress to run roughshod over the basic social contract that has governed our healthcare system since the mid-1960s.
Let's return to the supposedly halcyon days of 1960. Just 32 million of the 142 million people enrolled in private health insurance plans had major medical coverage, which covers routine care. The 700 insurance companies selling those plans did not offer maternity care. Physician visits weren't paid for. Drugs weren't covered.