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Yes, Obama, Republicans have offered Obamacare alternatives

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Beltway Confidential,Obamacare,Republican Party,Ashe Schow,CBO

Republicans have introduced at least four comprehensive alternatives to Obamacare, despite President Obama’s claims they haven’t.

Obama once again said in a speech Tuesday that Republicans in Congress have offered no alternatives to his signature health reform legislation.

“If, despite all of the millions of people benefitting from [Obamacare], you still think this law is a bad idea, then you’ve got to tell us specifically what you would do differently to cut costs and cover more people and make insurance more secure,” Obama said.

“You can’t just say that the system was working with 41 million people without health insurance."

Republicans weren’t saying that to begin with; further, Obamacare isn’t covering those 41 million people. While some of that 41 million will be covered — under Medicaid or in the exchanges — many will choose to pay the individual mandate tax rather than purchase insurance. Though not every single American will be covered even under Obamacare, the goal is to insure as many as possible.

But the claim that Republicans have offered no specifics about how to improve the health care system is patently untrue. To date, Republicans have introduced at least four comprehensive bills to address health care as alternatives to Obamacare.

The Patients' Choice Act, introduced on May 20, 2009, in the House by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and in the Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. They claim the bill would:

– emphasize prevention

– create a health care market through state-based exchanges

– make affordable premiums

– provide penalties for insurance companies that don’t accept patients with pre-existing conditions

– create regional pooling arrangements

– expand Health Savings Accounts

– prevent tax increases or new government spending

– clean up Medicaid and Medicare

– include ideas from states

There is no Congressional Budget Office score for this plan, so claims should be taken with a grain of salt, just as with Obamacare.

The Empowering Patients First Act that was introduced on July 30, 2009, by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., would first repeal Obamacare and replace it with a “patient-centered” solution that would:

– provide tax incentives for purchasing health insurance

– limit abortion funding

– prevent discrimination against companies who object to covering abortion based on religious beliefs

– improve HSAs

– allow for health insurance pooling among individuals and small employers

– allow insurance to be purchased across state lines

– reform Medicaid and Medicare

– increase transparency for claim reporting

Again, there’s no CBO score for this bill, but it’s an alternative nonetheless.

The Patient OPTION Act was introduced on Aug. 1 by Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., and would first repeal Obamacare and then focus on a patient-centered solution that would:

– allow individuals to deduct all health care expenses, including insurance

– increase contribution limits for HSAs

– move Medicare to a “premium assistance program”

– provide a tax credit for donations to hospitals and clinics

– allow for health insurance pooling by small businesses

– provide doctors a tax incentive to treat indigent patients

– phase out the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

There is no CBO score for this bill either.

The American Health Care Reform Act was introduced on Sept. 18 by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and would also fully repeal Obamacare. The law would then:

– increase access to portable, affordable health insurance

– expand federal support for state high-risk pools and cap premiums of those pools

– allow people with pre-existing conditions to move between markets so long as they maintain continuous coverage

– introduce tort reform

– prohibits federal funds for abortion except in extreme cases.

This bill does not have a CBO score either.

Again, these are just four alternatives to Obamacare that Republicans have introduced. Whether or not the bills would be any better than Obamacare is unknown, and whether Democrats would admit they were better than Obamacare is unlikely, but the fact remains that Republican alternatives are out there.

Oh, and by the way — Coburn, Price, Broun and Roe are all medical doctors.

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Author:

Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner