The GOP health care pseudo-alternative

Sorry Grover and your cohorts — putting out a bad series of ideas and then saying you are offering a solution is just not going to cut it.

The GOP is putting all of its eggs in the health care basket. Grover Norquist even weighed in recently, touting the Republican “alternative” to Obamacare that Grover says the Republicans have had out there all along. Here is the gist of it:

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a physician by trade, introduced House Resolution 2300, the Empowering Patients First Act, in June 2013, following previous iterations in 2009 and 2011.

Price’s bill entails the full repeal of Obamacare, permission of insurance sales across state lines, medical malpractice reform, tax deductions for health care expenses and a host of other laudable reforms that will reduce costs, increase access to care and allow consumers to buy the plans that are best for them.

This plan has been there for some time – and rejected on its face. The GOP is reupping their support because they think that the public will now want “anything” other than Obamacare.

Let’s have at it one more time.

A. Selling insurance across state lines.

The problem here has always been the fact that the states have different criteria for defining the baseline for good health care coverage. One of the issues we have been having with this “keep your policy if you like it” is that these policies are junk. Mississippi could sell a policy in Minnesota that would have the cheapest premium in the state — but it is junk.

It should be noted that the ranking of states for the best health care in the country shows that 19 of the bottom 25 states have Republican governors. Three others have Democratic governors but the legislature is fully Republican. And the bottom five are:

50. Mississippi
49. Arkansas
48. Louisiana
47. Alabama
46. West Virginia

Look like a trend? Conversely the top 5 states are:

1. Hawaii
2. Vermont
3. Minnesota
4. Massachusetts
5. New Hampshire

More trends?

States are better at health care if they support health care. It is that simple.

B. Medical Malpractice Reform

This can help on the margins, but there are so many other better ways to cut costs in health care; why is this the only one appears on the GOP radar? Because they hate the trial lawyers and want to protect health care conglomerates. They take a few extreme legal cases that have ridiculous aspects and try to taint the whole system. The truth is that without legal action, drug company domination of medicine costs and bad doctors would proliferate.

C. Tax Deduction for Health Care Expenses

Again, this can help on the margins, but people who are sick and need more care would go way beyond saving taxes — they would go bankrupt. Health savings accounts will help with average everyday savings, but again, it is a drop in the bucket. Sure, I’d like to see that 7% threshold disappear on medical expenses — but if you spend $3,000 a year on medical expenses and save $600 to $700 on taxes, you are still behind. The GOP tries to tell us that those HSA’s will somehow create a consumer market in health care — which would be possible only if you never have real sick people.

Sure, the GOP can figure ways to save taxes, but we need to cover more people. That is what why we developed the ACA in the first place. We have had too many uninsured or underinsured people escalating costs at emergency rooms and medical bankruptcies. Too many people getting dumped with pre-existing conditions. And too many people unemployed and left out of a system that is employer based.

The GOP has never solved health care, because they refuse to acknowledge the problem. It is like a habitual drunk figuring all he needs is a stiff drink to feel better.

Sorry Grover and your cohorts — putting out a bad series of ideas and then saying you are offering a solution is just not going to cut it.

If this is your alternative, please go back to the drawing board.

This post was written David Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/17/2013 - 04:56 pm.

    Health Care

    There are exactly two things that are going to improve health care in the U.S.:

    1. Universal single payer government run plan.
    2. Compensation reform for doctors and hospitals, switching them to payments based on how healthy they get their patients, not on how many procedures they run them through.

    Anything less than the two items above is just spitting in the wind and isn’t even worth considering.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/17/2013 - 10:45 pm.

      Thanks to Obamacare fiasco

      it ain’t gonna happen.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 12/18/2013 - 05:43 pm.

        Wait a minute!

        Dennis Tester favors a single-payer plan?

        Is hell sending a team to the Winter Olympics?

        Frankly, Democratic voters were subjected to a bait-and-switch when Obama was elected, because his vague campaign promises made it sound as if he was in favor of a single-payer plan.

        In fact, there was so little accurate information (and I mean accurate information, not scare stories plucked from British tabloids, which ignored the fact that the British system is very different from a Canadian-style single payer plan) available that I spoke to many people who THOUGHT that the Democrats were working on single-payer.

        Having dug around to find an executive summary of the Obama plan on the Kaiser Family Foundation site (there were no government sources for a summary), I saw that it was basically the same plan that the Heritage Foundation had been pushing since the 1980s.

        The Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party favored a single-payer plan, but the Blue Dogs, especially Max Baucus, insisted on the Heritage Foundation plan. To his shame, Obama strong-armed the Progressives to accept the Republican Lite plan that the Blue Dogs favored, even though the Progressives have the larger caucus.

        I do not like the Obama plan, since I see it as corporate welfare for the insurance companies, and it amuses me to no end to hear avid listeners of AM radio talk shows moaning about “socialized medicine” and “government health care.”

        If Mitt Romney had won in 2012 and proposed exactly the same plan, the Republicans would be hailing it as the greatest invention since the Constitution.

        But it would still be corporate welfare for the insurance companies.

        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/19/2013 - 12:29 pm.

          There Are Plans And Then There Are Plans

          Karen, who knows what Dennis is thinking for sure. He probably doesn’t even know his own mind.

          I’m with you there 100% on your assessment of Obamacare and the process leading up to it. The best I can tell is Obama thought he would rip a page from Clinton’s playbook and present them their own plan. The hope is that it would sail on through the process and he would look like a hero for coming up with a market-based solution for Americans. Except the Heritage Foundation’s solution is terrible as it only nibbles around the edge of the issues. Eliminating preexisting conditions and insuring more people is nice, but it does nothing to take profit margins out of the system, change to outcome-based compensation, and it doesn’t insure all of the people all of the time.

          Obama undoubtedly thought this was the best he could get through Congress. And he thought he was honestly making an attempt at bipartisan inclusiveness with the Republicans, who promptly turned around and panned the proposal their own people had been championing for twenty years.

          I’ve given up hope that we’ll have nation-wide universal single payer care, although I still advocate for it. Maybe others feel differently about our chances on the national level, but now I’m hanging my hat on a state-wide implementation like Vermont did. Quite frankly I’m amazed that the news outlets haven’t been shouting from the rooftops about Vermont. Other than a few articles here and there it’s been a real sleeper.

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