Health care changes still sorely needed

Health insurance entitlements have become the new third rail of politics. Many members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are so worried about alienating millions of voters that they are unwilling to tinker with the massive government takeover of health insurance — even if they might improve the system.

President Donald Trump was considering a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, seeking something better in its place.

Obamacare is flawed and has driven up health insurance costs for millions of Americans. It has restricted or even eliminated insurance options for many.

Some Democratic leaders insist the solution to that is for government to establish a “Medicare for all” system. It would virtually ban any private insurance and, beyond any reasonable doubt, would make the health care mess worse.

Many in Congress do not want to even consider Trump’s plan. Democrats want more government control. Republicans fear their opponents will accuse them of attempting to roll back Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid system.

Under that plan, about 14 million Americans who previously did not qualify have been enrolled in Medicaid. About three-fourths of the states participate in expanded Medicaid, which is funded partially by the states.

Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program provide coverage to about 75.5 million Americans. The system — including the expansion — has become an entitlement.

Another consideration is the claim by liberals that Republicans are out to make it difficult or impossible for those with pre-existing health conditions to get affordable insurance. By some estimates, about half the people in our country have pre-existing conditions, though many have little or no effect on insurance availability.

No one outside the White House knows precisely what the president will propose to install in place of Obamacare.

But for now, Congressional Republicans say health care discussions will be put off until after the 2020 election.

When the time comes, lawmakers must not rule it out. They must consider all options, including what Trump has in mind.

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