Health care is back in the headlines, but not in a good way. Democrats are salivating over the latest post from former President Trump proclaiming on Truth Social that “Obamacare Sucks!!!” and saying he would terminate the program.
They see the opportunity to use Obamacare as a weapon against Republicans for yet another election cycle. President Biden said yesterday: “My predecessor once again called for cuts that could rip away health insurance for tens of millions of Americans. They just don’t give up.”
Mr. Trump later clarified that “The cost of Obamacare is out of control, plus, it’s not good Healthcare. I’m seriously looking at alternatives” for “MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE.”
We do need alternatives, but his initial salvo puts Republicans on defense once again, with the media flooded with inaccurate claims that they have no ideas on health care.
Here is a sample of the many patient-centered alternatives we and our colleagues are offering. Plus a report on progress in this Congress on patient-choice legislation. Plus a summary of Speaker Mike Johnson’s detailed work on a health reform plan when he chaired the House Republican Study Committee. We could go on and on.
None of these plans would rip the rug out from people who now have no alternative but coverage through the ACA. Instead, they would redirect the funding to give people access to choices of more affordable health coverage and care in a revived market catering to their needs and preferences.
It’s like school choice for health care where the money follows the person. Those eligible for Medicaid, for example, are relegated to a program that can make it extremely difficult to get care from a specialist or coordinated care from an internist. They should be able to take the value of their subsidy to obtain a better plan and also have the option of adding their children on a single family plan.
The ACA relegates people to cookie-cutter health plans that have narrow networks of doctors and high deductibles and copays. Health plans are simply following Washington’s rules in their offerings, but the market could do so much better if people were able to select from plans that better suit their needs.
That’s what conservatives want to do with health reform. Democrats’ plans involve price controls, ever-larger taxpayer subsidies, and volumes more rules and regulations. Taxpayers are spending $90 billion this year on Obamacare subsidies–$6,324 per household—to prop up Obamacare.
The great majority of those receiving coverage under the ACA are on Medicaid, swelling its rolls to more than 90 million recipients. Only a net 1.6 million Americans are newly covered by private insurance through the law. The Paragon Health Institute calculates that this cost $36,798 per additional private insurance enrollee and $20,739 per additional non-group enrollee in 2021, which is more than triple CBO’s original projections. Even then, too many people on ACA plans find that having an insurance card doesn’t equal access to the physicians and hospitals they want.
Despite the failings of Obamacare, the Biden campaign already is out with a massive email and social media blast to seize on Mr. Trump’s comments. We are going to “really hit this hard” on television and elsewhere, one advisor told NBC News.
There are a number of Republicans in Congress taking ownership of health care and ready to fight back, starting with the Healthy Futures task force created by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. They could surprise Democrats this time with popular policy proposals that offer a more sophisticated approach than “repeal and replace.” They are looking to the future, not talking about the past.
Plans would devolve power and control over decisions through the states to doctors and patients, within an energized market that provides people with many more choices of affordable health care and coverage.
Pro-market health reformers not only have plans but better plans that would improve care, access, and affordability for millions of struggling Americans.