What will become of President Donald J. Trump’s plan to make Republicans the party of health care?

Though the president has promised a plan that is “far less expensive and far better” than Obamacare, the reality is such a plan doesn’t exist. In fact, critics say, coming up with that sort of plan would be next to impossible.

You can design a better plan, they say, or you can design a cheaper plan. You can’t do both. At least not without adding significantly more government subsidies or tossing lots of people from the program.

The fact is there are no easy solutions to this dilemma.

Republicans like the idea of handing Medicaid dollars in the form of block grants to states and then letting the states figure out the details. That might save money for the federal government, but it would basically amount to passing the buck.

The states would be stuck with the same choices. They could spend more money, reduce the quality of coverage or limit the number of people eligible for the program. There are no other options.

And so here we are, with our president the snake-oil salesman promising the perfect elixir while working hard to dismantle the only health care plan we actually have.

Attorney General William Barr ran into a few critics of that strategy during his testimony before a House appropriations committee.

“I’m a lawyer,” he told U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat from Florida. “I’m not in charge of health care. The president has made clear he wants a strong health care legislation, and he wants to protect preexisting conditions in the event that the court accepts the legal arguments that we’ve presented.”

Crist wasn’t convinced the president was really all that worried about providing medical coverage for every American.

“He worries about it so much so that he’s pursuing a case that would take it away from them,” Crist said. “The irony of that is rich.”

That case is a lawsuit out of Texas in which a federal judge tossed out the entire law, saying Congress had made it unenforceable when it got rid of the much-maligned individual mandate.

The Trump administration has decided not to fight the ruling, a position Barr reportedly didn’t support but felt obligated to pursue.

That decision prompted a letter from House Democratic leaders demanding an explanation.

“This refusal appears to be violating longstanding policies to defend and enforce Acts of Congress, will have a significant negative impact on the accessibility of health care for Americans and appears to be driven by political considerations rather than considered legal arguments,” the letter read.

When U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, challenged the attorney general’s strategy, Barr responded with a question.

“Do you think it’s likely we’re going to prevail?” he asked.

Cartwright noted that Barr was devoting the resources of his department toward that strategy. Didn’t that represent something of an endorsement?

“We’re in litigation,” Barr responded. “We have to take a position. I’m just saying that if you think it’s such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about. Let the courts do their work.”

And what if it’s not an outrageous position? What’s the plan if the lawsuit succeeds?

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas, has a guess.

“If successful in their legal assault on the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have a plan for the 21 million Americans who would lose health care coverage,” he tweeted. “It’s called ‘Nothingcare.’”

Let’s all hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

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