The GOP's Fabled "Alternative" to Health Reform--Where Is It?

The day after the House GOP voted to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, I noted that Republicans can't be bothered to do the hard work of legislating, policymaking, and problem-solving. For all the "repeal and replace" rhetoric, the GOP can't even begin to explain the "replace" part of their agenda, and haven't come up with an actual health care reform plan of their own.

Some of my friends on the right suggested this wasn't fair -- there is a Republican reform plan, and it exists, whether I consider it a sound plan or not.

Is there something to this? Not really.

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, host David Gregory noted the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the plan presented by now-Speaker John Boehner -- barely denting the ranks of the uninsured, doing very little about costs -- and asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "The truth is, Republicans do not have a serious alternative to covering more Americans, do they?" Cantor responded:

"Well, the -- if you recall last session, we Republicans were given one shot; we didn't have any open debate for both sides at all on the healthcare bill the way it was jammed through. The Boehner plan is just a starting point."

Cantor went to repeat vague and shallow talking points, but this was the crux of his pitch.

He seems to have forgotten some of the relevant details, so let's quickly review. The House Republican caucus worked behind closed doors for five months a health care plan in 2009. As a substantive matter, the GOP plan was nothing short of laughable -- it largely ignored the uninsured, did nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and offered nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it's needed most. It didn't even focus on fiscal issues, reducing the deficit far less than the Democratic plan.

The Republican approach to reform sought to create a system that "works better for people who don't need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It's basically a health un-insurance policy."

Yesterday, Cantor suggested his own party's plan, which he voted for, was a joke because of the process. But that's silly -- House Republicans took five months to shape their own policy precisely how they wanted, and they came up with a ridiculous proposal that no one could take seriously. It wasn't billed as "a starting point"; it was presented as a credible plan to improve the nation's health care system. It wasn't.

Other Republicans, meanwhile, are suggesting the party could go back to the McCain/Palin reform plan from 2008 -- which happens to cost far more than the Affordable Care Act, and cover fewer people.

Those who think Republicans have credibility on health care policy clearly aren't paying attention 

 

Washington Monthly / By Steve Benen

Posted at January 24, 2011, 6:06am

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