If at First You Don't Succeed, Get Back on the 'Repeal and Replace' Horse

After last week’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill debacle, President Donald Trump and the House Republican leadership seemed ready to throw in the towel and give up on health care reform. Thankfully, a few days later, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republicans are “not going to just all of a sudden abandon health care.” The feeling is shared by Trump, who, shortly thereafter, told a group of senators, “I know that we’re all going to make a deal on health care.”

That’s the least they could do for the American people. Who gives up after one try? Under the best of circumstances, fundamental reforms are hard. Fundamental reform of the health care system is among the most difficult legislative and political tasks, and this effort wasn’t the best of circumstances. Indeed, the bill didn’t fail because of the Freedom Caucus as many claim. It didn’t fail because the president didn’t offer to compromise on a few aspects of the bill to increase the “yes” vote count. It didn’t fail because the National Economic Council chief didn’t defend the bill properly on Sunday talk shows. And it certainly didn’t fail for lack of bullying from the administration.

It failed because it was a bad bill. It wouldn’t have reformed many of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations, and it would have done little to control rising health care insurance premiums. It also doubled down on the misguided idea that the government and insurers, rather than consumers, should pay for a large number of Americans’ non-catastrophic health care needs. This, among other things, contributes to the rise of health care costs. Adding insult to injury, it was a political…