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Republicans have an alternative to Obamacare, and it could save $2.34 trillion

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Beltway Confidential,Obamacare,Health Care,Ashe Schow,CBO

A Republican alternative to Obamacare could save taxpayers $2.34 trillion over 10 years, according to a study by two former advisers to the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

The proposal — the Empowering Patients First Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., an orthopedic surgeon — would increase health insurance premiums less than Obamacare and create an increase in the number of people insured in the first year after it would take effect that is only 3 percent smaller than the current law, former Congressional Budget Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Steven Parente said in an analysis for the American Action Forum.

The difference in coverage would come from lower Medicaid enrollment.

But the proposal was estimated to increase employer-sponsored insurance participation by 12 percent in 2023 compared to Obamacare, assuming the new law is enacted Jan. 1, 2016.

“This analysis confirms that the Empowering Patients First Act would have a tremendously positive impact on our nation's health care system,” Price said in a statement. “It is a testament to the reform proposal's validity and seriousness, and it confirms that patient-centered solutions can yield savings, reduce costs, and increase access.”

Compared to Obamacare, EPFA would lower premiums for all types of insurance except for high-deductible plans in the first year, but by 2023, those high-deductible plans would still be 6 percent cheaper, the study says. And by 2023, premiums would be substantially lower than under current law, by as much as 19 percent for individuals and 15 percent for families.

As for helping the uninsured, the law is marginally less effective than Obamacare, since EPFA doesn’t include the individual mandate. By 2023, the increase in insured Americans would be 5 percent less.

EPFA accomplishes these gains while providing guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, as does Obamacare. But EPFA also allows insurance to be purchased across state lines and promotes pooling of health insurance plans and health savings accounts. It also provides income-adjusted health insurance vouchers and tort reform.

“Under Obamacare, the American people are losing the health care coverage they have while experiencing higher premiums and less access to physicians and hospitals,” Price said. “This is occurring because the president’s health care law violates every principle of health care we hold dear: affordability, accessibility, choices, innovation, quality and responsiveness.

“The impetus for an alternative approach to health care reform is obvious, and we ought to be pursuing solutions that empower patients, families and their physicians, not Washington,” Price said.

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