Speaking to party chairs at the Republican National Committee’s summer meeting in Boston this week, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stated “the GOP has ‘zero’ ideas for replacing Obamacare.” I beg to differ with Gingrich, who will debut this fall as host on the remake of CNN’s Crossfire.
Republican members of the House and Senate do have ideas and some, such as Dr. Tom Price (R., Ga.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) with Representative Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), have actually introduced bills which would, if passed, replace Obamacare. The latter team’s bill is named the Patients Choice Act. Republican Study Committee chair Steve Scalise (R., La.) is also working with Representative Price to introduce a replacement bill when Congress returns in the fall. In fact, Representative Price has introduced three bills since 2009. His latest, the Empowering Patients First Act, has not been voted upon but has several co-sponsors including first-term congressman Tom Cotton (R., Ark.).
In my new Broadside from Encounter Books The Cure for Obamacare I outline several ideas for including in a replacement agenda. They are:
Change the federal tax code to level the playing field for individuals
Introduce a refundable tax credit for those who do not get insurance coverage at work
Expand the availability of Health Savings Accounts
Allow the purchase of insurance across state lines
Expand high-risk pools for those who cannot find affordable coverage
Eliminate the Essential Health Benefit mandate
Eliminate the Electronic Health Record mandate
Encourage state-level medical-malpractice reform
Reform Medicare and Medicaid
There is no doubt that the American people would like to see Obamacare repealed and replaced. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that 47 percent think the law is a bad idea compared with 34 percent who think it is a good idea. Prospects for repeal and replace are bright but not possible until after the 2016 elections. If Obamacare is not replaced then, the prospects for replacement will be dim. America will be on the “Road to Serfdom” and there will be no off-ramp. Obamacare will not reduce costs or achieve universal coverage. The insurers will be blamed. The next step: “Medicare for All.” This was clearly evidenced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comment when asked on a PBS show on August 10 if he felt the United States should abandon insurance as a means of accessing the health-care system. He replied “Yes, yes. Absolutely yes.”
It is time for the GOP to stand together behind a replacement agenda that will empower doctors and patients, not the federal government. Only then will we achieve the goal of affordable, accessible, quality care for all.
— Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book The Cure For Obamacare (Encounter, Summer 2013)