A talking point often heard from the White House, congressional Democrats, and the “news” media concerning Republican calls for the repeal of Obamacare has been that the GOP has no plan with which to replace it. This has always been fiction, of course, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has once again put the lie to this tired talking point with a 37-page blueprint outlining a clear vision for replacing the widely reviled health care “reform” law. Titled “A Better Way,” the Ryan plan is built on five basic principles:
Provide all Americans with more choices, lower costs, and greater flexibility.
Protect our nation’s most vulnerable.
Spur innovation in health care.
Protect and preserve Medicare.
The first of these principles is crucial because, preposterous claims by its apologists notwithstanding, Obamacare is not “working” by any rational measure. It has, in fact, rendered an already costly and flawed health care system even more dysfunctional and expensive.As the House blueprint accurately phrases it, “This law cannot be fixed. Its knot of regulations, taxes, and mandates cannot be untangled. We need a clean start in order to pursue the patient-centered reforms the American people deserve.”
The second principle of the Ryan plan is about permitting the market to work. Advocates of Obamacare claim this is impractical for health care because the average patient is too dumb to grasp its complexities and thus needs Beltway bureaucrats to make her medical decisions. The House plan rejects this elitist nonsense: “While Obamacare favors a one-size-fits all approach, we believe choice, portability, innovation, and transparency are essential elements of successful reform, and for too long they have been absent in health care.”
Principle three states that it will allow individuals to make their own medical choices and still protect historically vulnerable patients. Obamacare apologists are already making the false charge that the plan wouldn’t cover patients with pre-existing conditions. It is slightly more restrictive, but not much: “No American should ever be denied coverage… on the basis of a pre-existing condition. Our plan ensures every American, healthy or sick, will have the comfort of knowing they can never be denied a plan from a health insurer.”
The fourth principle of the GOP blueprint is about getting government off the backs of medical innovators. It speaks specifically to the absurdly cumbersome process to which the Food and Drug Administration subjects companies that develop new devices and drugs: “Today, it costs $2 billion and takes 14 years to get a new drug through the byzantine clearance process.… Obamacare made the problem worse by levying a new tax on medical devices.” The point here is, again, about letting the market work for patients.
Principle five involves halting the incredibly irresponsible behavior of the President and his congressional accomplices concerning Medicare: “Obamacare raided more than $800 billion from the program and beneficiaries it serves and used the funds to finance the law’s open-ended expansion of entitlements.” As Betsy McCaughey wrote yesterday about a notorious 2012 political ad, “Who’s really pushing Granny off the cliff? Obama himself.” The Ryan plan seeks to save Medicare from further Democrat depredations.
For an excellent overview of the other positive features of the House blueprint for replacing Obamacare, here are some of the provisions Obamacare apologists have denounced: “Ryan would eliminate the individual and employer mandates; shut down the insurance exchanges; cancel the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid… convert it to block grants… and limit the amount victims of medical malpractice can sue for.” The only question that occurs to me upon reading this catalogue is: So, when do we get to the bad stuff?
The plan also includes provisions that protect providers from being forced to perform procedures that violate their religious beliefs, prevent federal taxpayer dollars from being used for abortion services, end the “Cadillac Tax,” encourage the development of a national health insurance market by permitting insurers to sell across state lines, allow small businesses and individuals to band together to increase their purchasing power, and (like Obamacare) allow dependents up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health coverage.
Much of the criticism that has been leveled at the blueprint involves the fact that it isn’t a full-fledged bill, complete with a meaningless price tag from the Congressional Budget office. This complaint assumes that, in order to be a serious proposal, it must contain a couple of thousand pages of open-ended, aspirational gibberish. That is, of course, one of the worst features of Obamacare. Most of it is so vague and subjective that the apparatchiks at the Health and Human Services Department have been able to rewrite the law.
That the GOP blueprint is short enough to read in one sitting and can be decoded without a team of bureaucrats and lawyers is cause for celebration. The object of the game here is to provide a foundation upon which to rebuild our health care system once we elect a Republican President who will sign an Obamacare repeal bill. Unless the voters are crazy enough to elect Hillary Clinton, our long health care nightmare may soon be over.