The Corner

Another Obamacare Alternative

The 2017 Project, a conservative group, has released a plan to replace Obamacare. See here for a short description and here for a longer one. To my eye, the plan looks a lot like the Burr-Coburn-Hatch proposal in the Senate: It extends tax credits so that people who don’t have access to employer-provided insurance can buy coverage on the individual market; it funds high-risk pools; it caps the deduction for employer-provided coverage; it strengthens regulations to keep people who have maintained insurance coverage from being dropped. Where the plan differs from the Senate proposal, it mostly looks better. It’s more federalist on medical-malpractice reform, where it urges state action. It does not phase out its tax credit, and thus avoids creating a large disincentive to work. It’s bolder about allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

In one respect, though, I think the Senate proposal is superior. The Senate has an “auto-enrollment” feature, described thus by NRO’s editors: “[The Senate proposal] gives states a new option: When someone has not used a federal tax credit toward the purchase of insurance and then needs medical care, the state may, if the person does not object, treat him as having bought an insurance plan equal in value to the credit. The number of uninsured Americans would thus fall without the individual’s being in any way coerced to buy anything from any company.” That helps makes the plan competitive with Obamacare in terms of its “score” by the Congressional Budget Office: It’s a mechanism the CBO will credit as yielding strong coverage numbers. It will also actually protect people from catastrophic health expenses and widen the insurance pool, both of which are good things.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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