There are some Republicans on the national stage so fixated on doing away with the Affordable Care Act that their calls to “repeal Obamacare” take on the character of a nervous tic. Few of them, though, offer any substantive proposal for what to do when about providing health care once it’s gone.
On Wednesday, Louisiana Governor and possible 2016 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Bobby Jindal, released his “The Freedom and Empowerment Plan: The Prescription for Conservative Consumer-Focused Health Reform,” which he describes as “the foundation for true health reform – one that puts doctors and patients, not government bureaucrats, at the heart of all policy decisions."
Jindal comes to the issue of health care reform with much more background in health care issues than many policymakers. The former Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services, he also served as principal adviser to former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
Jindal divides his proposal into three areas, the first of which is “Lowering Health Costs.” Among other things, he proposes to bring the tax treatment of individually-purchased health insurance in line with employer provided health benefits. He would also push responsibility for providing subsidies for low-income individuals and those with pre-existing conditions down to the state level through a $100 billion pool of federal funding to be distributed to the states with “minimal restrictions.”
The proposal would also expand the use of Health Savings Accounts, create incentives for wellness, and “crack down on fraud.”
To be sure, the Jindal plan is a bit thin on financial details. It seems somewhat convenient that the fund supporting state programs would be such a nice round number if substantial analysis had been done of how much assistance each state would require.
The second element of the Jindal plan is aimed at “protecting the vulnerable” and stresses providing guaranteed access to insurance to individuals with preexisting conditions. It would also borrow a page from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) by providing “premium support” vouchers to subsidize the purchase of private insurance plans that would compete with Medicare.
The third leg of the stool is made up of a set of provisions providing for portability – the ability of consumers to retain plans when they move across state lines or change jobs. It also proposes various other reforms, including changes to how medical malpractice lawsuits are handled.
The report is replete with criticisms of Obamacare and was, perhaps coincidentally, released on the same day that the administration announced that it had surpassed its original target of 7 million enrollees through the federal and state marketplaces. Jindal, plainly, remains committed to full repeal of the law.
“Many Americans struggle every day with the high cost of health care, and Americans with pre-existing conditions cannot access the care they need. America’s health care system does need reforms – but it needs the right reforms,” he writes.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: