The Congressional Budget Office has issued an analysis of an alternative health care bill proposed by House Republicans. The bill will cost $61 billion over 10 years (as opposed to the $1.055 trillion House Democrats bill) and reduce budget deficits by $68 billion, according to the CBO. The bill would also lower average health insurance premiums by 5 percent to 8 percent for individuals, 7 to 10 percent for small groups, and zero to 3 percent for large groups. At the same time, the CBO estimates that it would have a marginal impact on insurance coverage by only reducing the number of uninsured by 3 million.
Overall, I wasn’t very impressed by the GOP alternative, which you can read more about here. There are some elements of it that are good, including allowing Americans to purchase insurance across state lines, giving businesses more flexibility to offer financial incentives aimed at encouraging people to be healthier, and expanding health savings accounts. But there are also plenty of new mandates imposed by the bill, including barring insurers from having annual or lifetime spending limits and a “slacker mandate” that would make insurers allow adults to stay on their parents insurance until age 25.
But more importantly, the bill doesn’t do anything to move us beyond the employer-based health care system, a system in which the tax code discriminates against individuals purchasing insurance on their own, workers are locked into whatever insurance policies their employers choose for them, and they cannot take their insurance with them when they move from job to job. The GOP proposal isn’t what I would consider real reform. It’s more of a document that Republicans have put out so they can say they have some sort of health care bill that reduces premiums at a fraction of the cost of the Democrats’ bill.
Also disturbing to me is that the one page summary of the bill has a chart titled, “Scorecard: Speaker Pelosi’s Government Takeover vs. GOP Common-Sense Solution” in which the GOP boasts that while Pelosi’s bill cuts Medicare by $500 billion, the Republican alternative has $0 of Medicare cuts. This is what we’ve come to — a Republican Party that talks a big game about standing up for small government while openly touting the fact that their health care proposal does not touch the health care entitlement program that is bankrupting our country.
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