Republican lawmakers spent the last seven years vowing to repeal and replace Obamacare, and while the House took a first step toward that end Thursday in the narrow passage of the American Health Care Act, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer made an ominous prediction about where health care in this country is heading.
“Historically speaking we are at the midpoint and we had seven years of Obamacare, changing expectations. I would predict that in less than seven years, we will be in a single-payer system,” he told Fox News host Chris Wallace.
This, he said, is the “great irony”—that despite the electoral losses Democrats faced because of the Affordable Care Act and even though the law has largely failed in practice, Obamacare will still win in the end.
“Obamacare failed at every level politically. … As you say, they lost seats in the House, Senate, governorships. Largely because of Obamacare. It failed on the ground, as was pointed out earlier. The insurers are in a dead spiral. The Obamacare exchanges are collapsing. You've had these exchanges … completely disintegrating. But the irony is in the end, I think Obamacare wins the day because it changed expectations,” he said. “Look at the terms of the debate. Republicans are not arguing the free market anymore. They have sort of accepted the fact that the electorate sees healthcare as not just any commodity. It's not like purchasing a steak or a car. It is something people now have a sense that government ought to guarantee."
Wallace pushed back, asking how we are going to get to single-payer and wondering if he was saying the Senate would not pass the repeal and replace plan?
Krauthammer said in the short term, the Senate will not accept the House plan but will come up with one of its own. While he acknowledged he didn’t know how that would end up, he was certain “it’s going to be a rickety arrangement.” This in turn will negatively affect Republicans at the polls.
“It’s likely that Republicans are going to suffer at the polls. And as a result of that, if that happens, you're going to get a sea change in opinion and then there’s only two ways to go: to a radically individualist system where the market rules or single-payer. And the country is not going to go back to radical individualist,” he said.