Help Wanted: Republicans Seek ObamaCare Replacement
New legislation offers a GOP alternative.
While the House voted to repeal ObamaCare several dozen times over the last four years, the present-day political reality dictates a repeal and replace strategy. It’s disappointing to the constitutional purists among us who can’t seem to find much of a federal role for health care within that hallowed founding document, but at least we know some Republicans in Congress are trying to move in a better direction.
The newest Republican alternative is called the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act – or Patient CARE Act for short. Patient CARE’s key attribute is the elimination of the coverage mandate, but it sweetens the pot for remaining in the system by providing targeted tax credits for lower- and middle-class families to assist with the purchase of plans, while allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines – a longtime goal of conservative health coverage reformers. The Patient CARE Act also places a much-needed cap on monetary damages for medical malpractice.
In a nod to those who supported some of ObamaCare’s provisions, the GOP alternative maintains the ability for “children” to stay on their parents' plans until the age of 26, and it accommodates those with pre-existing conditions, although this would be handled in a different manner.
Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sponsored the bill, with an identical House version sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Burr and Hatch, along with former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, outlined a similar package last year but never introduced it as legislation.
It may become more appealing to both sides of the aisle if the Obama administration loses its Supreme Court case dealing with the legality of subsidies given to insurance purchasers in states using the federal exchange – not that Obama’s goons are too worried about defending the voluminous law. When it was written, federal bean counters simply assumed every state would have an exchange, so they wrote the language authorizing federal subsidies accordingly. But when 36 states opted not to create their own exchange, a legitimate legal issue arose – one that could tear apart ObamaCare as we know it.
There are, of course, many reasons to scrap ObamaCare and start anew. Among them are the inconvenient truths that insurance costs have risen, patient choices for doctors have decreased and competition between insurers on the exchanges is non-existent in many locations. Coupled with the fact ObamaCare’s budget is balanced on the backs of Medicare providers – which seems to be a feature and not a bug with the overall plan – the impetus to do something increases even further.
It’s almost certain that Obama’s signature legislation will last at least as long as his presidency does. But if a Republican is triumphant in 2016 and retains GOP majorities in the House and Senate, the life expectancy of ObamaCare will decrease. The Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor beneficial for the standard of care. And it was sold to the American people on a pack of lies. So while the Patient CARE Act isn’t a perfect remedy, it would at least soothe the worst symptoms of Obama’s legacy.