Yes, there are Republican alternatives to Obamacare

Since the disastrous Obamacare at the beginning of October, some administration officials, congressional Democrats, pundits friendly to President Obama have been, unbelievably, trying to place some blame on Republicans for the problems. They’ve also countered the attempts to repeal or delay the Obamacare with the line that Republicans haven’t offered any ideas or alternatives to this administration’s ill-conceived law.

But that’s not true, as George Will explained on Tuesday night during an appearance on Fox News’ Special Report. Republicans have offered alternatives to Obamacare, and they’ve pushed these ideas for several years.

“I think it’s unfair [to say Republicans don’t have healthcare ideas]. Paul Ryan has a premium support plan, John McCain, amazingly, got it right in 2008,” noted Will, a conservative Washington Post columnist. “[H]e said, look, tax all employer-provided health insurance as what it manifestly is, compensation, but compensate for that by giving people a large tax credit to go into the market and shop across state lines, which you’re not allowed to do now, for health insurance.”

“Premium support plus [McCain’s ideas], that’s a Republican plan,” he added.

Bret Baier, host of Special Report, noted that tort reform is also a Republican idea. Dr. Ben Carson, who has garnered a lot of attention from conservatives, agreed, but noted that trial lawyers have fought on efforts to rein in excessive lawsuits.

Not only have Republicans offered healthcare alternatives over the past few years, they’ve done so in the current Congress. Reps. Tom Price (R-GA) and Paul Broun (R-GA), both medical doctors, have separately introduced comprehensive, patient-centered alternatives to Obamacare.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) incorporated many of Price’s ideas into its own separate alternative, the American Health Care Reform Act. This proposal would repeal and replace Obamacare and enact reforms that would expand make health insurance more accessible, incentives people to purchase coverage by making it tax deductible, and covers the small number of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

There are two things at play that shape the narrative that Republicans supposedly haven’t offered any alternatives. First, President Obama and Democrats don’t like these ideas, so they dismiss them out of hand and, falsely, continue to claim that Republicans have nothing.

More importantly, Republicans have yet to coalesce around or promote any particular set of alternatives to Obamacare. This one is, squarely, on them. They’ve focused on foreign policy and tax issues, the latter of which is understandable, without really pushing their ideas on healthcare. Which is why you’re seeing more calls by congressional Republicans to get out in front on the need to get behind the RSC’s plan, especially now that Obamacare is fledgling.

“I believe in coming months, the American people will recognize the urgent warnings that the Republicans tried so desperately to convey. And they will be looking to us for a way out,” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) told his colleagues in a recent speech.

“We need to blaze that trail now, and for that reason,” he said, “I rise to ask the House leadership to bring the Republican health care reforms to the floor – get them to the Senate – and then let the American people decide.”

If there is a takeaway from the gubernatorial race in Virginia, it’s that the botched Obamacare rollout and the stories of cancellations letters to consumers because of the law are hurting Democrats; it caused a much closer race in the Commonwealth than anyone anticipated. That’s why some vulnerable Senate Democrats are beginning to pivot on the issue, hoping that fixes will be enough to appease voters back home.

Getting out in front of this issue is imperative for Republicans. Being against something only goes so far with voters, they have to get behind one particular alternative and then sell it to an Americans public increasingly weary of Obamacare.


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