Pelosicare may have passed the House, but the debate on health care is far from over. What should conservatives be doing to influence the next phase? We contacted a few of National Review Online’s health-care experts and asked them for their recommendations.
JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
As the health-care debate moves to the Senate, Obamacare opponents should emphasize that the Senate bill is not remotely moderate. It would cost $1.7 trillion in its real first decade (2014–23), according to the Congressional Budget Office — 95 percent as much as the House bill.
Two points should be hit particularly hard: One, the Senate bill would provide tremendous incentives for people not to buy insurance until they are already sick or injured — which would raise most Americans’ insurance premiums substantially. Two, it would brazenly pay for Obamacare by siphoning hundreds of billions from Medicare. The bill even says it would cut Medicare Advantage benefits, and would cut doctors’ Medicare payments by 25 percent and never raise them back up. If it didn’t follow through, it would become a massive-deficit bill.
Crucially, we should also advance — and persuade Republican senators to champion — a clear alternative. To avoid the criticism that the House GOP bill got for not doing enough to address the number of uninsured, GOP senators should basically take the House Republican bill and add a targeted tax break — finally ending the unfair tax on the uninsured (without touching employer-provided insurance or its tax status). Unlike the $1.7 trillion Democratic bill, the CBO says, the $61 billion House GOP bill would lower Americans’ premiums. The GOP Senate bill would also significantly lower the number of uninsured — and could do so in a deficit-neutral manner.
Americans’ choice would be clear: massive cuts to Medicare benefits and doctors’ payments, or none; $1.7 trillion, or one-tenth of that; government control or private control; mandates or choice; higher premiums or lower premiums. The GOP bill would accomplish more, cost less, and destroy less. It would highlight the core weaknesses of the Democratic bill while bringing Americans into the GOP camp.
– Jeffrey H. Anderson is a senior fellow in health-care studies at the Pacific Research Institute and was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during Pres. George W. Bush’s second term.
The House bill is a target-rich environment from both a policy and a political perspective. It’s a bloated, partisan government takeover of the health-care system that doesn’t address Americans’ central concern, affordability. Moving forward, conservatives must continue to highlight its many shortcomings, including higher taxes and increased health-care premiums, a $1.3 trillion price tag, $505 billion in Medicare cuts, and a long list of new mandates. But conservatives can also confidently appeal to the most salient concern Americans express in poll after poll: how much health care costs.