Monday, November 21, 2016

GOP Health Care Reform

Sara Kliff has an interesting interview with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) up on Cassidy and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) have proposed the Healthcare Accessibility, Empowerment and Liberty Act, one of several GOP health care proposals. Its major features include tax credits and health savings accounts in place of subsidies, cheaper plans that cover less, and more power given to the states in structuring coverage alternatives. This is not surprising given that the new features are Republican evergreens.

The big story to me is that the Republicans are finally seriously engaged in the health care discussion. The Affordable Care Act was a flawed attempt to simultaneously expand coverage, maintain the role of private health insurance and outlaw predatory insurance practices. The GOP contributed absolutely nothing of value to the original debate, having already resolved before the inauguration to unanimously oppose everything President Obama did for purely political reasons. Their main contributions were bogus claims of "government takeover of health care" ('s 2010 Lie of the Year) and death panels for Granny.

It will be interesting to see where this ends up. The GOP is now faced with the responsibility of governing and a health care package it has sworn to repeal. The Affordable Care Act remains unpopular overall but contains several very popular individual elements that over 20 million newly insured people will not want to lose. They may make a few changes (it does need some), leave the popular bits intact, slap a new name on it and claim credit for "repeal and replace."

As long as the finished product expands coverage in a workable, affordable way, that would not bother me much. Such a package might even attract some Democratic support.

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