Reader Question – Can't the opposition just reverse any changes in a few years?

A reader writes:

Well, my question:   On several occasions you have said that even if something is passed we will be able to make changes.  It’s been said that if we pass some form of health care now, we can adjust it to fit our needs later, as all programs will not start right away.  So with that being said, if Republicans get voted back into office either controlling congress or in four years at the top, what is to stop the Republicans from: #1 simply changing the plan to something they want or #2 from just voting to drop all changes and start this all over again.  Is it just the money that was already spent that would stop this or could the Republicans simply just change the plan if and when they get control?

Excellent question.  The short answer is yes, they could change the plan.  But the truth is that it is very, very hard to scale back popular entitlement programs once they are in place.  Republicans opposed Social Security and yet attempts to privatize it or scale it back have destroyed careers.  Medicare was touted as socialism by many before it passed.  And Republicans have been in power many years since then, and it has only grown.  In fact, Democrats voted against Medicare Part D years ago; do you hear anyone screaming for its repeal now that they are in power.

If history tells us anything, it is that after health care reform is passed, it will be popular among many, many people who will have Medicaid, subsidies to purchase insurance, and more security with what they have.  It is much harder to get rid of things than to get them passed.  That’s why those opposed to the bill are fighting so hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

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