Politics & Policy

Wanted: A Republican Substitute for Obamacare

To be a credible opponent, the GOP must unite around a plan of its own.

At his August 9 news conference, Obama spoke with journalists in the White House East Room about Republicans and Obamacare.

“At least they used to say, ‘Well, we’re going to replace it with something better,’” Obama said. “There’s not even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better.”

Unless Republicans want Obama to keep spouting such nonsense, they must craft and at least pass through the GOP House a bill that would scrap Obamacare and put something far better — and Republican — in its place.

#ad#Republicans are 1,000 percent correct to try to defund, repeal, and replace Obamacare. With its employer mandate postponed for a year, most health-insurance exchanges far from ready for their October 1 debut, medical premiums zooming to the Moon, and its ten-year price tag soaring from $940 billion at enactment to $1.8 trillion today, Obamacare has become both unworkable and a knee-slapping mockery of its official title: “The Affordable Care Act.”

American patients and taxpayers alike should applaud GOP efforts to derail this runaway train safely out of town, before it barrels onto Main Street with its gears stripped, brakes shot, and tank cars clogged with toxic cargo.

That said, congressional Republicans badly need to plant their rumps into some hard chairs and unify around a single GOP alternative to Obamacare. They should endorse its elements, pledge to adopt it if they win the Senate, and constantly sell it as the best means to prevent this looming disaster.

Such a measure — call it the Patient Power Act of 2013 — should promote choice and freedom, limit government meddling, and pry Uncle Sam from between Americans and their doctors.

Specifically, the PPA should:

• Repeal Obamacare.

• Create a robust market in which individuals — not bosses or politicians — can choose to own and control portable health plans.

• Shift tax-deductibility of health premiums from employers to employees, to help workers purchase the coverage that they — not CEOs or senators — prefer.

• Let Americans purchase health and pharmaceutical policies across state lines, just as they now may buy life, home, and apartment coverage from vendors across the U.S.A.

• Free Americans to open voluntary, tax-free Health Savings Accounts from which they can finance over-the-counter drugs, routine medical care, and catastrophic insurance for severe ailments.

• Entice doctors to deduct from their taxes the dollar value of their charity care for poor and uninsured patients. Let a million free clinics bloom.

• Reform the medical-malpractice system, which propels health costs skyward.

• Establish high-risk pools to help insure those with pre-existing conditions.

• Limit federal involvement to supplying health-insurance subsidies to those remaining Americans who cannot care for themselves or find relief through civil society, local and state government, or the initiatives outlined above. Rather than ruin medicine for 316 million people, government should assist the tough cases who cannot secure help elsewhere. Instead of disastrous micromanagement, Washington simply should offer direct cash payments to help the truly needy and infirm buy private health plans that satisfy their needs.

To their credit, Republicans have advocated many of these ideas via assorted measures sponsored by various House and Senate members. Good for them. But what the GOP lawmakers have failed miserably to do is gather these and other worthy reforms into one bill, and then rally around that single package.

What’s missing? Leadership. On this issue, and too many others, congressional Republicans (especially in the House) are like skillful mechanics riding a runaway freight train with no one in the locomotive. If House Speaker John Boehner cannot conduct this conveyance, it would be helpful if Republicans found someone who could.

Meanwhile, as Forbes contributor Merrill Matthews has noted, a recent survey of some 2,500 federal employees discovered that 92.3 percent of them want to keep their existing coverage and avoid Obamacare.

“Leave our healtcare program alone NO Obamacare!!!” commented one participant (unedited, like all those quoted here) in this study, conducted by FedSmith.com, which tracks federal affairs. Another respondent said, “The only federal employees that should go into the exchanges are the ones the voted for this president. I saw through his smoke screen and mirrors.” A third federal employee remarked: “Obama care disgusts me! The exchanges are fraud with inept, incompetent morons set to access my personal information! Repeal NOW!!!!!”

When even the Big Government workers who would run Obamacare reject it, the time has come to dispatch this smoldering wreck to the scrapyard.

But before the congressional GOP can expect the American public to climb aboard the medical bullet train that they envision, Republicans themselves need to embrace its blueprints.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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