by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
Last week’s newsletter mentioned some conservative health care alternatives that seek to supplant Obamacare while steering away from the "status quo" healthcare delivery system. To briefly rehash, three Republican Senators (Tom Coburn, Orrin Hatch, and Richard Burr) have co-sponsored a proposal entitled the Patient CARE (Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment) Act. Again, this proposal has received both praise and criticism from both sides of the aisle.
The praise results from the fact that this proposal gives patients more purchasing power and choice over their health care coverage. Say goodbye to the 10 essential health benefits that must now be included in every health plan along with the 20 new Obamacare taxes and fees on individuals and employers. Say hello to individuals being able to build their own plans that best meet their individual needs.
On the other hand, champions and critics of Obamacare mention that this alternative is so similar to current law that it’s not even worth a serious discussion. As stated in this week’s National Review:
So, for example, Sarah Kliff writes in the Washington Post that the Republican plan "takes some of the contours of Obamacare and works around them, such as ending denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and continuing dependent coverage up to age 26." Donald Taylor blogs that "the rage machine that has been perfected to argue against Obamacare could get plenty cranked up against the plan." Andrew Sullivan referred to the plan as "Obamacare Lite" in several blog posts.
Additionally, Thomas Miller of the American Enterprise Institute has written a thought-provoking and insightful paper on some of the proposal’s loosely defined terms. He also questions how some aspects of this alternative will be faithfully executed and properly financed. It’s worth a read.
Here are just 3 more components to the CARE Act:
The proposal has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). However, the Center for Health and Economy, a think-tank under the direction of former CBO Director Doug Holtz-Eakin, estimates that the CARE Act would reduce the number of uninsured just as much as Obamacare, if not more, and would reduce the federal deficit by over $1.5 trillion the next 10 years.
A unified vision still remains in its nascent stage, but Republicans seem aware that it’s time to put their noses to the grindstone.
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