In a summary of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for replacing Obamacare, Avik Roy notes that Ryan and co. are hesitant to advertise the fact that his measure would provide universal coverage for health care insurance.
One thing that’s interesting about Paul Ryan’s speech — and it’s been true of every similar Republican speech on the topic — is that the words “universal coverage” are never uttered. Former CBO Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another proponent of the tax-credit approach, also takes care to distinguish it from “an immediate move to universal coverage or other massive expansion.”
But facts are facts, and the universal tax credit approach to health care reform is indeed a plan for universal coverage. I get that some Republicans recoil from the term, because it smacks to them of socialism, but it’s high time to reclaim the words “universal coverage” from the socialists.
Universal coverage is a worthy goal that, done the right way, would dramatically improve our fiscal situation, help control runaway health-care costs, lift a massive drag from the U.S. economy, and make a lasting humanitarian contribution. A Republican politician who campaigned on that platform could fire the imaginations of millions.
Because Ryan’s plan is to replace the tax preference for employer-provided health insurance with a refundable tax credit available to everyone, his plan would provide for universal coverage, which even Obamacare won’t achieve, if it’s left in place.
If Ryan were proposing a new system of bureacracy along the lines of Obamacare, it would be suspicious for him to boast about universal coverage. But what he’s suggesting is merely a reform of the tax code. The employer-provided health insurance benefit is already universal, it’s just terribly inefficient. If Ryan were able to explain that his plan for universal coverage is really just tax reform, then there would be no problem with the term.