The Democrats keep insisting the Republicans have no Obamacare alternatives. That’s not true since 2009 the GOP has presented at least nine different replacement options, the most recent was presented this past July.
On January 23, 2009, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor met with the new president Barack Obama to present Republican ideas for the stimulus plan. Obama rejected Cantor’s pitch outright saying, “Elections have their consequences–we won.” That set the tone for lack of cooperation that plagued the government for the entire Obama Presidency.
On a Wednesday morning, Just short of eight years later the Senate and House Minority leaders stood before a capital microphone with the same arrogant attitude as president Obama had years before. Only this time they lost.
Each of the Democratic Party leaders vowed to do everything in their power to keep Obamacare in place and block all Republican attempts at replacing the failing health care system.
But the two speeches presented a paradox, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer began by saying the plan the Republicans cooked up will never work, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took center stage from Schumer (never a safe move) to say that she agreed with Schumer and that the GOP doesn’t even have a plan to substitute for Obamacare. So, the idea the GOP doesn’t have will never work?
The truth is while the Democrats were working on the bill that would become Obamacare, Republicans were offering their version of healthcare reform. Not one of the GOP options were considered by the President or the Democratic Party:
Three alternate bills were proposed in the spring-summer of 2009:
- In May, Republicans in the House and the Senate formed a bicameral coalition to produce the 130-page “Patients Choice Act of 2009.”
- In June, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced the “Health Care Freedom Plan.”
- In July, the Republican Study Committee, under the leadership of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) who is himself a physician, unveiled the “Empowering Patients First Act.”
Rep. Price reintroduced his health care bill each for 3 straight Congresses. A 2013 analysis of the bill promised:
- It would save taxpayers $2.34 trillion over 10 years
- It would slow the rate of premium increases more than Obamacare
- It would increase the number of insured Americans (by almost as much as Obamacare, WITHOUT an individual mandate tax)
Price even testified before Congress to explain his plan.
The American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 was introduced by Republican Philip Roe (R-TN) in September 2013:
- Fully repeals President Obama’s health care law, eliminating billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs.
- Spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations.
- Reforms medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients. This will drive down the doctor’s cost of doing business and allows for an overall downward push on the price of Healthcare.
- Provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance. Since there is a standard deduction, there is an incentive to shop for the cheapest insurance, as families get the same deduction even if they have a very low-cost plan.
- Expands access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses.
- Safeguards individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high-risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections.
Six months ago (July 2016) Speaker Ryan introduced a House Republican alternate called “A Better Way Healthcare Policy,”
- Ryan’s plan kept the popular parts of Obamacare, such as not allowing people with pre-existing conditions to be denied coverage, or permitting children to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
- It also allowed states that have already expanded the number of people eligible for Medicaid under the law to maintain the additional coverage, although it would prevent any new states from doing so.
- Offers refundable tax credits that increase with age to those who purchase coverage on the individual market. This means the plan will provide broader coverage than Obamacare because people in states where Medicaid was not extended now could qualify for the health care tax credit even if they are below the poverty line.
- For people without insurance through their jobs, the Republicans would establish a refundable tax credit.
- It allows consumers to buy health insurance across state lines, expands health savings accounts, introduces tort reform and gives block grants to states to run Medicaid programs for the poor.
- It would gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age, now 65, to match that of the Social Security pension plan, which is 67 for people born in 1960 or later.
- Ryan’s plan would cap the tax deductibility of employer-based plans.
Republicans have been offering alternates to Obamacare since Obama’s signature disaster was introduced in 2009, and the Democrats did not allow GOP participation in its crafting. Therefore both Pelosi and Schumer lied when they said they would fight the Republicans. Pelosi lied when she said there were no GOP alternatives, there were at least nine (and probably more). And Chuck Schumer lied when he said the GOP wouldn’t work. It is too soon to know if a plan would work or not, because as Nancy Pelosi taught us about health care plans, you have to pass the bill to know what’s in it, and if he doesn’t know what’s in it, how can Chuck Schumer know if it will work or not?