The latest defense of Obamacare isn’t a defense at all, it’s just the claim that Republicans don’t have an alternative and should therefore stop trying to get the landmark health insurance law overturned by the courts. But now, the House of Representatives’ Republican Study Committee has stepped up with its own plan, “A Framework for Personalized, Affordable Care.”
The plan isn’t really a replacement of Obamacare. Rather, it fundamentally changes the structure of the healthcare system by pulling the federal government out and encouraging innovation at the state level. By empowering states to frame their own plans for their own residents and allowing consumers to use health savings accounts to purchase coverage that fits into their lifestyles and health goals, the Republican plan becomes accessible to a broad range of income brackets and puts the emphasis on care, not coverage. This is long overdue, as the status quo of Obamacare isn’t working.
The number of unsubsidized enrollees using the Obamacare individual exchange market has dropped by
1.2 million since 2016. There’s no mystery why: Exchange premiums have continued to increase in more than half of states, and emergency room usage is on the rise.
Even the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are nearly unanimous in their agreement that Obamacare has failed. That’s why they want to steer the country in the opposite direction: the complete takeover of the healthcare system through a “Medicare for all” scheme that in reality abolishes Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs healthcare, and all private insurance.
It’s the wrong approach. What Americans want and deserve is more choice, not less, and that’s what the new Republican plan allows for.
It allows states to create plans that are accessible to their residents. They are encouraged to be innovative in showing that choice and competition can create a more affordable healthcare market. For families, this means access to more choices that do not force them to enroll in plans that don’t offer the coverage that they desire or need.
For instance, individuals and families can enroll with a direct primary care physician, a health sharing ministry, or have access to telemedicine. Those are just a few examples of innovations that show promise, and when markets are freed from the tight constraints of government, many more could emerge.
Congress can begin to move toward the Republican reforms by codifying President Trump’s executive order regarding association health plans, short-term limited-duration plans, and health reimbursement arrangements. Through these avenues, Americans can find options that better fit the needs of small businesses and individuals, while being more affordable than current Obamacare exchange plans.
The Republican plan leverages health savings accounts to give families far more power over their own healthcare.
Health savings accounts would no longer have to be paired with high deductible plans. Enrollees could use their accounts to pay for their premiums, too. Under the plan, HSA contributions are allowed to increase from $3,500 per individual to $9,000. Additional modifications would also allow the accounts to be used to buy over-the-counter medications. Ultimately, these changes make health savings accounts more accessible to enrollees to achieve their health goals.
A common worry is what will happen to those with preexisting conditions. The Republican plan uses two main pathways in order to help these Americans. The first is allowing for insurance portability: With this, a worker in a new job would not have to reenroll in a new plan, and thus they would not have to worry about being penalized if they developed a medical condition while between jobs.
Secondly, states can receive funding to create guaranteed coverage pools for those with high-cost health needs. This mitigates the risk and fear that they could not access coverage in a timely manner.
Obamacare was meant to be a pathway to affordable healthcare for those with no other resources. It has become a scheme that prices people out of the market with increasingly high premiums and exclusions, which is why even the Democratic presidential field has abandoned it.
The new Republican Study Committee plan shows we can move forward with policies that protect Americans and offer them choices. Families deserve to have a say in their healthcare, and Republicans now have a plan offering just that.