Health care - GOP has alternatives

Health care - GOP has alternatives

March 15th, 2014 by Grover G. Norquist and Patrick Gleason in Opinion Free Press

With the White House's recent announcement that it is delaying the Obamacare employer health insurance mandate for yet another year, the current administration has once again demonstrated its intention to selectively decide which laws it wants to enforce and execute, and those it does not.

While Obamacare is clearly an unworkable legislative disaster, that's no excuse for the president to disregard the rule of law. It's not just a faulty and embarrassing website; Obamacare is most problematic from a policy standpoint, precipitating soaring premiums, dropped coverage and countless hours lost in bureaucratic jungles for the millions of Americans scrambling to replace the insurance plans that they liked but can no longer keep because of the White House's signature legislative achievement.

In January's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged Republicans in Congress who are critical of his health care bill, chiding: "So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice - tell America what you'd do differently. Let's see if the numbers add up."

As it would happen, thanks in particular to leadership from Tennessee's congressional delegation, there are several such proposals that have been put forward by the GOP. And contrary to what President Obama and congressional Democrats repeatedly claim, these Republican proposals not only exist, they are in legislative format, available online, and can be accessed in a fraction of the time that it takes one to unsuccessfully sign up for Obamacare.

Tennessee representatives Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black, Phil Roe, Scott DesJarlais, Steve Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann are cosponsors of House Resolution 3121, legislation introduced by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of conservative members of the U.S. House, who would repeal Obamacare, along with its 20 tax increases, and replace it with a series of patient-centered, market-oriented reforms that would increase access to care and bring down costs.

The plan put forth by Reps. Roe, Blackburn and company would make health care expenses tax deductible for individuals and families, providing them the same benefit now only available to companies. The RSC bill also improves plan portability for those with pre-existing conditions, expands health savings accounts, and implements medical malpractice reform, limiting attorneys' fees and non-economic damages that drive up the cost of care in the current system.

And one day before the State of the Union Address, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) unveiled a plan that Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow, Forbes Opinion Editor, and former health care policy adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, referred to as "the most thoughtful and constructive plan yet developed to repeal and replace Obamacare."

The Congressional Budget Office recently issued a report projecting that there will be 2.4 million fewer U.S. jobs by 2024 as a result of Obamacare, a reduction of more than 50,000 jobs in Tennessee alone. This disastrously designed new entitlement, rammed through with shady parliamentary maneuvering and not a single Republican vote, has upended a sixth of the U.S. economy and is causing serious and even life-threatening hardship across the country.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. Patrick Gleason is ATR's director of state affairs.