ObamaCare repeal

No, Republicans have not shifted on Obamacare

Over the weekend, Capitol Hill was aflutter with news that Republicans in the House and Senate were coming together to finally propose a “fix” to Obamacare. The “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” sponsored by Fred Upton in the House and Ron Johnson in the Senate, would essentially overrule the HHS grandfather rules for what insurance plans can continue to exist after certain dates so that people can keep their current plans no matter what, as the President promised. It would be a fix for the millions of Americans being cancelled by their insurers to comply with the new regulations.

Reporters and pundits saw this as a “shift” in strategy, to finally start working with Democrats to reform the calamitous reform rather than stonewall it. I used to think that helpful collaboration would be the better option, but had a change of heart after the implementation proved so disastrous. So I was horrified when I read the headline suggesting Republicans were coming around. As soon as I decide that stonewalling is the best strategy, the party reverses course. Typical! Then I read the story.

Replacing ObamaCare: Republican Alternative Expands HSA Access

RSC ObamaCare Alternative

This is the second in a multi-part series exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

As we reach the climax of the CR stalemate centered around ObamaCare, the debate will eventually have to shift away from the endless evils of government-driven health care and toward the redeeming power of free-market forces.  Fortunately, the Republican Study Committee recently introduced a comprehensive health care proposal titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA).  The bill, H.R. 3121, both repeals ObamaCare and offers the best set of proposals to date toward establishing a consumer-driven health care narrative for replacing ObamaCare.

Last week I addressed AHCRA’s first core principle, the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance (SDHI), which would unchain the tax advantages for purchasing health insurance from employer-sponsored coverage.  This post focuses on the benefits of enhancing the health savings account (HSA) to unleash the power of the market in combating the skyrocketing costs of care.

HSA Provides Triple-Tax Advantage

Replacing ObamaCare: AHCRA Proposes Standard Health Deduction

RSC ObamaCare Alternative

This is the first in a multi-part series exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

Last week, the Republican Study Committee introduced a comprehensive health bill that addresses a fundamental question facing the movement to defund/repeal ObamaCare: What would you replace it with?  The bill (H.R. 3121) is titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA), and it’s loaded with solid proposals to move us from the current government-driven ObamaCare model to a market-based, consumer-driven health care framework.

Many of the concepts detailed in AHCRA have been discussed in broad generalities by Republicans for years.  Now we have specific policy proposals in actual legislative form, and the good news is that there’s a lot to like.  At it’s core, AHCRA is a tax reform bill that revolves around its featured legislative proposal - the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance.

It Starts With One Thing

AHCRA Section 101:


White House threatens to veto ObamaCare mandate delays

Despite the Obama Administration acting to delay parts of ObamaCare, the White House issued a veto threat yesterday on two pieces of legislation proposed in the House that would delay the individual and employer mandates.

“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2667 and H.R. 2668 because the bills, taken together, would cost millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve,” the White House said in a statement. “Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried nearly 40 times, it’s time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class.”

“H.R. 2667 is unnecessary, and H.R. 2668 would raise health insurance premiums and increase the number of uninsured Americans,” added the White House. “Enacting this legislation would undermine key elements of the health law, facilitating further efforts to repeal a law that is already helping millions of Americans stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, millions more who are getting free preventive care that catches illness early on, and thousands of children with pre-existing conditions who are now covered.”

Jindal offers state-focused Obamacare alternative

Through his nonprofit group, America Next, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has proposed The Freedom and Empowerment Plan, a comprehensive replacement for Obamacare that focuses state-level solutions to reduce healthcare costs.

“Repealing all of Obamacare is a good and necessary step — but not one sufficient by itself to achieve the real health reform America needs,” Jindal writes in the 26-page document outlining the plan. “The President was right about one thing: American health care did need reform. But Obamacare did not ‘reform’ American health care, so much as it took a dysfunctional system and made it dramatically worse.”

Some of the features of the plan are similar to other proposals. The Freedom and Empowerment Plan, for example, would reform the medical malpractice system. It would also make health insurance coverage more portable, expand access to health savings accounts (HSA), and allow Americans to purchase coverage across state lines.

The most notable part of the plan is that it would guarantee access to health insurance for Americans with preexisting conditions, pushing the idea of a “new $100 billion innovation pool.” In order to receive the funding for the high-risk pools, states will have to “guarantee access for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

The Republican Study Committee pushed a similar approach to preexisting conditions. The American Health Care Reform act pledges $25 billion over 10 years to off-set costs as well as capping premiums at 200% of average premiums.

Breaking down the WSJ/NBC poll (hint: it’s terrible news for Democrats)

Not only did Democrats got to bed on Tuesday night after a frustrating loss in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, they woke up Wednesday morning to reports of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which shows a trainwreck ahead for their party.

A special election doesn’t necessarily mean electoral victory for any party, and neither do polls released more than seven months away from election day. But the WSJ/NBC News poll shows that Democrats’ problems don’t end at a special election, no matter how hard they try to spin it.

— Obama’s approval at a new low: Just 41% of Americans approve of President Obama’s job performance, down from 43% in January. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove, which is up from 51% at the beginning of the year and matches his previous high in December. President Obama’s approval rating has not been above water since June (48/47).

— We’re headed in the wrong direction: Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say that the United States is headed in the wrong direction, while 26% believe we’re “off the wrong track.” Compare that to 41/53 in October 2012, the month before President Obama won reelection, and 32/58 in November 2010, when Republicans won control of the House of Representatives. Needless to say, that’s not a position in which Democrats want to be.

College activist group introduces “Giant Debt Pong”

War on Youth

Young Americans for Liberty, a college activist group with some 500 chapters and 162,000 members, has rolled out a new educational tool to teach young people about how policies pushed by the Obama administration and some Republicans are robbing them of opportunity.

What the group has done is taken beer pong, a drinking game ordinarily reserved for college parties and spring break, and put a brilliant new spin on it as part of its “War on Youth Activism Kit.”

Young Americans for Liberty’s version of the game, “Giant Debt Pong,” gives student activists a chance to teach their fellow classmates about their $150,289 share of the national debt. Students who participate in the same will need to hit six buckets labeled with “solution stickers” that they have to hit to pay off their share of the debt. These policies are part of what the group calls the “War on Youth.”

Giant Debt Pong

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Included in the “War on Youth Activism Kit” is a Barack Obama Fathead that a Young Americans for Liberty activist will use to try to knock away your attempt to rid yourself of your share of the national debt.

Young Americans for Liberty is encouraging student activists to “[u]se this opportunity to make the connection between the disconnect the government has with our generation,” through the Obamacare, warfare state, cronyism, and other misguided policies that are tantamount to generational theft.

House Republicans plan votes on Obamacare measures

Among the first votes of the new year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will vote either today or tomorrow on a pair of bills dealing security and transparency as it relates to the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov (emphasis added):

The House is rounding out its first week back after the holidays with a pair of votes Friday aimed at the security and functionality of HealthCare.gov. It’s a jab at the Obama administration after the website launch fiasco and follows repeated Republican criticisms about what they say was inadequate testing of the website security. It’s a strategy that’s likely to play out from now right up until the midterm elections.

One bill offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) would require the Department of Health and Human Services to notify Americans within two days if their personal information has been compromised on the new insurance exchanges. The other, sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), would require the administration to publicize weekly reports detailing the performance of the federal website.
Republicans’ new year’s Obamacare energy is reminiscent of 2011, when they kicked off the year by voting to ditch the whole law. But the tone is different this year, now that the law is a reality and not just an impending change.

Republicans say now they can respond to specific problems with the law — instead of just trying to scrap it all. The votes this week, for instance, don’t repeal or defund all or part of the health law, as a few dozen prior House votes did.

Republicans may coalesce behind a healthcare reform alternative in 2014

After more than three dozen votes to repeal, delay or defund Obamacare, House Republicans may take a new strategy in 2014 by coalescing behind a comprehensive set of healthcare alternatives.

In an interview with United Liberty about his healthcare policy alternative, the Empowering Patients First Act, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) explained that House Republican leaders have told him that they’re interested in moving the ball forward.

“I have always thought that we need a positive alternative and that Republicans, especially in the House, need to coalesce around a plan,” Price said. “We haven’t been successful with being able to push that but I think we’ve gone over that bridge now.”

“Leadership has said repeatedly to me and to others within our conference that they’re interested in having the conference come around a single plan,” he noted. “So I think in the first quarter or shortly thereafter of this new year, we’ll see the House Republicans coalesce around a plan.”

Republicans have been criticized for not putting forward a specific set of healthcare policy alternatives to present to voters, despite having several different proposals from which to choose. Some, however, believe that they shouldn’t bother, given the Obamacare meltdown in the last three months of 2013. Others fear that that pushing an alternative could backfire and/or that the effort will be wasted.

McCain introduces Obamacare alternative in Senate

John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently introduced legislation that would repeal Obamacare and replace the unpopular law with patient-centered reforms to lessen healthcare costs and offer consumers more choice.

Based on reforms introduced earlier this year by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), McCain introduced the measure last week before the Senate adjourned for its holiday break.

“I am introducing the Empowering Patients First Act, companion legislation to H.R. 2300, which was introduced in the House by Congressman Tom Price,” said McCain last week in a press statement. “I thank Congressman Price for all of his hard work on this legislation.”

“The Empowering Patients First Act would give patients and their doctors the power to make medical decisions, not Washington,” he said. “There is no doubt that Obamacare is failing, and it is time for Congress to consider our alternatives.”

The Empowering Patients First Act would provide Americans with tax incentives for maintaining health insurance coverage, improve access to health savings accounts (HSAs), reform Medicare and Medicaid, and allow consumers to purchase plans across state lines. It would also guarantee coverage for roughly 1% of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

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