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Republicans keep uniting disparate health care stakeholders

It's not easy to unite doctors, hospitals, and private health insurers. Republicans keep managing to pull it off anyway with their misguided plans.
Empty hospital emergency room. (Stock photo by  DreamPictures/Getty Images)
Empty hospital emergency room.

As of yesterday afternoon, Senate Republicans decided the best way to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations is to also repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. As the Congressional Budget Office has already told lawmakers, this would destabilize the market, raise premiums, and lead 13 million Americans to lose their coverage.

But the CBO isn't the only player in the game warning Republicans about the dangers of their scheme.

In a joint letter, the top industry groups representing insurers, hospitals and doctors came out strongly against repealing the mandate, arguing it was necessary to attract enough healthy patients to offset the cost of insuring Americans with pre-existing conditions."There will be serious consequences if Congress simply repeals the mandate while leaving the insurance reforms in place: millions more will be uninsured or face higher premiums, challenging their ability to access the care they need," the letter read, which was signed by America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Federation of American Hospitals.

At face value, the question here is whether GOP policymakers are prepared to ignore the nation's most prominent organizations representing doctors, hospitals, and private health insurers.

And while the answer obviously matters a great deal, I don't think the political world fully appreciates how amazing it is to see these groups join forces in opposition to Republican proposal -- something that keeps happening.

It's easy to overlook, but doctors, hospitals, and private health insurers have traditionally had very different goals when it comes to federal health care policymaking. It was almost a given that when a proposal made one of these stakeholders happy, it'd disappoint the others.

But in 2017, Republicans have managed to unite disparate health care stakeholders to an unprecedented degree. They all think the GOP plan on the individual mandate is dangerous, just as they all thought the GOP plan on cost-sharing reductions was misguided, just as they all opposed the Republican repeal legislation.

It's almost impressive, in a way. It's not easy to get doctors, hospitals, and insurers on the same page, over and over again, but Republican health care policymaking has become so ridiculous, the GOP has quietly pulled off the impossible.