Reading the reporting about the House Republican’s latest plan to replace Obamacare has been an imminently frustrating experience. Take a look at these tidbits:
- Kaiser Health News: “Six years after promising a plan to “repeal and replace” the federal health law, House Republicans are finally ready to deliver”
- Forbes: “Today, after years of hearings and speeches and debates, the Paul Ryan-led House of Representatives has done something it has not done before: it has released a comprehensive, 37-page proposal to reform nearly every federal health care program.”
- The Atlantic: “That Republicans have failed to offer a single, comprehensive replacement bill for Obamacare has become a running joke in Washington over the last several years…”
- The New York Times: “After six years of vague talk about a conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans on Tuesday finally laid out the replacement for a repealed health law.”
None of it is true.
In 2009, Senators Tom Coburn, and Richard Burr, and Representatives Paul Ryan, and Devin Nunes introduced a comprehensive bill called the “Patients’ Choice Act of 2009,” that would have served as a fundamental rewrite of the nation’s health care laws. Heck, Ryan even labeled it a “Better Path Forward,” which mirrors the messaging of the current House Republican plan called “A Better Way.”
In 2012, Representative Paul Broun, a physician, introduced the “Offering Patients True Individualized Options Now Act,” which would have made all health expenditures tax deductible so as to equalize the tax treatment of employer or self-purchased insurance and dramatically strengthened Health Savings Accounts.
In 2013, Rep. Tom Price introduced the Empowering Patients First Act, which would repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered solutions. Namely, it uses a universal, age-adjusted tax credit to help Americans purchase insurance and restores responsibility for health regulation to states, while extending HIPAA continuous coverage protections to the individual market.
In 2014, Senators Coburn, Burr and Orrin Hatch released the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, which would have maintained certain workable parts of Obamacare while, among other things, making changes to the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage in order to fund subsidies for the uninsured.
In 2015, the Republican Study Committee unveiled its blueprint for replacing Obamacare’s tax credits and coverage requirements with tax deductions and high risk pools.
Heck, just last week Representative Pete Sessions, a prominent member of the House leadership, introduced “The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan Act of 2016,” which wins the award for the most Trumpian bill name ever. Setting aside the grandiose moniker, it was actually an important bill that maintains the Obamacare exchanges, but offers people the choice to leave in exchange for a tax credit to purchase insurance, while also doing away with things like the individual and employer mandate.
And that’s just a smattering of the myriad plans and proposals that Republicans have come up with to replace Obamacare. There is no shortage of ideas, there’s just been a deficit of urgency because they’ve had absolutely no chance of getting anything passed that wouldn’t be immediately vetoed by President Obama. Not to mention any idea that they commit to will get hammered by the press and ripped apart for years by special interests and lobbyists before Republicans would even get an honest chance of passing it. Instead, they’ve done exactly what they should have done – developed a series of ideas, studied them thoroughly, improved them over time, and coalesced around the best ones.
The product of that process is a white paper—not to be confused by an actual piece of legislation—that provides a series of ideas that congressional committees can begin working on next year. It’s a broad and deep document, so we encourage you to read it in its entirety here, but its key points are:
- Repeals Obamacare
- Allows businesses and individuals to band together to make risk pools
- Allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health plan to age 26, and allows insurers to charge them less
- Bans insurers from charging people with pre-existing health problems and forbids them from dropping coverage
- Creates tax credits that grow with age that can be used to purchase a wider variety of plans than under Obamacare
“The plan presented here] recognizes that health care today is a wholly integrated system, consisting of providers, insurers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and others working to deliver the best quality care,” the plan’s authors write. “Our proposal embraces this reality but also recognizes that people must come first. A health care system is only as good as its service of the patients who rely on it.”
And right now, the Democrats’ healthcare system is utterly failing its patients.