GOP Must Have Obamacare Alternatives

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

Republicans responding to my last Daily News column objected to this statement: "Republicans who advocate repealing Obamacare must agree on a consolidated plan to replace it from a number of alternatives they’ve advanced."

They say, plausibly, that, since Obamacare is thoroughly despised and support has cratered to 26 percent, Republicans can win the Senate this year without a replacement plan.

They insist, also plausibly, that, if Republicans offer an alternative plan early, it may contain features which Democrats will misrepresent and demonize.

In a recent USA Today article, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus accurately described the Democrats’ "something is better than nothing" defense of the unpopular law – it’s "feeble" — but quoted Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "What is the Republican solution…to ensuring that everybody in America has access to quality, affordable healthcare?"

Wasserman Schultz ignored the estimated 30 million Americans who will remain uninsured under Obamacare, so Priebus missed swatting her lob out of the park simply because Republicans haven’t agreed "on a consolidated plan to replace it from a number of alternatives they’ve advanced."

Lack of a Republican plan presents Democrats with their own opportunity, one they’ll incessantly exploit through the megaphone of a sympathetic left-leaning national media.
In his whiff to Wasserman Schultz’s softball question, Priebus overlooked the simple answer, an alternative to enable Obamacare’s full repeal while covering the uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions.
In 2009, then-Senator Jim DeMint proposed a refundable tax credit to Americans who buy health insurance in individual markets to end the unfairness in the tax code which allows employer plans to be purchased with pre-tax dollars.
The 2017 Project, an anti-Obamacare advocacy group, expanded on DeMint’s idea by proposing $1,200 tax credits for those under 35 years of age; $2,100 for those between 35 and 50, $3,000 for those 50 and over, plus $900 per minor child. Before Obamacare went into effect, the federal government’s numbers on the cost of insurance revealed that those tax credits, supplemented by no more than $15 per month from an individual’s income, would pay for "catastrophic" health insurance for healthy people in all but five states which had hyper-regulated their insurance markets.
Allowing residents in high-cost states to buy insurance across state lines would enable them to escape artificially-inflated insurance premiums.
For Americans with preexisting conditions, the 2017 Project’s proposal guaranteed coverage at higher rates, means-tested and adjusted through state-run high-risk pools to ensure affordability.
Compared to Obamacare, in ten years, these alternatives would save over $1 trillion in direct spending — while keeping the IRS out of health care enforcement.

If Republicans win the Senate, legislate immediately and, with a Republican White House in 2017, they can repeal and replace Obamacare’s overhaul of healthcare and reverse its unprecedented liberty-suppressing centralization of power.

My column also warned that "Democrats who advocate fixing Obamacare must offer their fixes."

If there were practical fixes to the Obamacare nightmare, by now, vulnerable Democrats would have advanced them. Instead, they’ve aligned with an administration whose optimism approaches risible naïveté – or dishonesty.

As Obamacare’s woes increase – and they will — enough worried Democrats may cooperate with Republicans to override presidential vetoes.

Either way, Republicans must propose an effective alternative so thinking voters can base their choices on something other than party loyalties.