Irresponsible Collins blocked serious health reform

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When Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced her opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill to reform Obamacare, she has slammed the door on this latest Republican effort to address our health care crisis.

I’m just able to muster up one word to capture my sense of Sen. Collins: irresponsible.

Collins expressed her concern that the bill would “open the door for states to weaken protection for people with pre-existing conditions … .”

What insight does Collins thinks she has that the 48 Republican Senators who support the bill don’t grasp?

Graham-Cassidy does give flexibility to states to seek a waiver on the federal requirement to cover pre-existing conditions. However, to achieve the waiver, states must demonstrate they have another approach.

The current situation causes damage to everyone. By forcing insurance companies to provide products that don’t work economically, the companies have to either raise rates—which is what is happening—or withdraw from markets, which is also happening.

Graham-Cassidy takes a difficult situation and says, “It’s clear we’re not going to solve it in Washington, so let’s turn it over to states and let each state deal locally with its challenges.” This is indeed what America is about. This is what the founders of the United States wrote into our Constitution. A limited federal government, and the rest left to the states. And they were right!

But liberals, like Susan Collins, have upset the apple cart over the years and now we have a mess in Washington.

Collins should celebrate that Graham-Cassidy allows her to work with citizens in her own state with great latitude to solve these difficult problems locally. But like most liberals, instead of concluding that things are not working because the federal government is too big, she concludes it’s not big enough.

Sen. Lindsey Graham summed up the current situation with precision when he said that his main concern is that “Obamacare is a placeholder for Berniecare.” “Berniecare” is, of course, the national single-payer government health care that Senator Sanders is pushing for.

Barack Obama was clear that that’s also what he wanted. But because he couldn’t get it, he opted for getting it through the back door by way of the Affordable Care Act.

With its vast array of regulations and taxes coupled with the huge expansion of Medicaid, Obamacare has been a major step toward a single-payer government system. Medicaid, which is a single-payer system for low-income Americans, now covers 73.5 million Americans, up from 47.7 million in 2008. Medicaid together with Medicare now has almost 40 percent of all Americans on government single-payer health care.

The problem is that once the nation gets put on welfare, once people get used to handouts, it is enormously difficult to change.

At least Graham-Cassidy turns things around in a serious way. Block-granting Medicaid, turning management of this program to local control at the state level, is a huge and important reform.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has estimated that Medicaid fraud is as high as 10 percent of total Medicaid expenditures. That puts Medicaid fraud at about $55 billion per year. That’s about equal to the size of the whole state economy of Collins’ Maine. Local management could vastly improve this horrific situation.

Maybe what’s really gnawing at Collins is that the bill pulls taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s No. 1 abortion provider, which she loves so much.

Graham-Cassidy is a noble effort to improve our health care system, given tough existing political realities.

Sen. Collins is just leading us to socialism. Without a change of heart, she hurts her party, her state and her country.•

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Parker is an author and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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