After a protracted battle with politics, Obamacare repeal died swiftly last night due to a policy complication stemming from an issue related to insurance market design. Although supporters had high hopes for the bill, in reality it may never have had a chance. In its life and in its death, it was a testament to Republican incoherence about health care.
The repeal plan, which close associates knew was never really full repeal, began life as a Republican campaign mantra—repeal and replace—which was uttered and promised by nearly every GOP politician for seven years, since the passage of Obamacare in 2010.
It was always more of a slogan than an actual plan: As early as 2011, Republicans promised that a replacement could be expected in short order, but a real candidate never arrived. It wasn’t that Republicans and conservative health policy scholars never developed any alternatives. There were op-eds and white papers and even a full-fledged draft of legislation or two. But there was never any consensus on any of these options.