When Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) unveiled a white paper on health care reform last month, presenting ideas for “A Better Way to Fix Health Care,” some were quick to criticize its lack of details. Others pointed out that Obamacare was first introduced in a similar way, not as draft legislation, but in a broad paper issued in 2009 by then-Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana.) While program details and cost projections are definitely needed and will be developed, the Ryan vision should inspire a hope of “health care liberation” from the oppression of Obamacare. All disheartened Americans should commit themselves vigorously to support the work that lies ahead to enact these reforms.
The Ryan plan is guided by five basic principles, discussed succinctly by David Catron with quotes from the plan:
- Repeal Obamacare: “We need a clean start in order to pursue the patient-centered reforms the American people deserve.”
- Provide Americans with more choices, lower costs, and greater flexibility: “While Obamacare favors a one-size-fits-all approach, we believe choice, portability, innovation, and transparency are essential … and for too long have been absent in health care.”
- Protect our nation’s most vulnerable: “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.”
- Spur innovation in health care: “ … getting government off the backs of medical innovators … letting the market work for patients.”
- Protect and preserve Medicare: “Obamacare raided more than $800 million from the program and its beneficiaries” to pay for Medicaid expansion. The Ryan vision includes a premium support system that would allow seniors to pick their preferred plan in the future.
As summarized by Lewis Uhler and Peter Ferrara, the Ryan blueprint restores numerous freedoms:
- It puts individuals in control of their health care, allowing people to keep the plans they like.
- It liberates employers from mandates that have resulted in a loss of full-time jobs and imposed higher taxes.
- It equalizes tax preference for those without access to employer-provided health insurance.
- It reforms Medicaid to liberate the poor from subjugation to flawed health care, and gives them premium assistance to purchase insurance they want.
- It removes oppressive regulations on states, and incentivizes states to make their own choices in helping the disabled and elderly under Medicaid.
- It permits states to adopt work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries, requirements that are prohibited by the Obama administration.
- It removes interstate commerce restrictions on health insurers, allowing plans to be sold across state lines, stimulating market competition that will drive prices down.
- It reforms Medicare to create more choices for seniors to select the doctors and services they want.
- It revitalizes and broadens the popular Health Savings Accounts programs, so that everyone can participate, including the poor.
- It extends “continuous coverage protections” to previously uninsured individuals with pre-existing conditions, and positions state-run uninsurable risk pools as backup coverage for everyone.
- It repeals the trillions of dollars in Obamacare taxes, excessive regulations, and unnecessary government spending. The monetary benefits of repeal include reductions in the capital gains tax, lowering of corporate dividends taxes, reducing Medicare’s top payroll tax rate, and removing the effective tax rate increases that are imposed on all working people, especially the middle class, by Obamacare’s individual mandate.
Uhler and Ferrara conclude:
By liberating economic growth, consumer choice, and cost-saving incentives and competition, the House Republican majority plan would assure health insurance coverage to millions more Americans, far more than Obamacare, which the Congressional Budget Office concluded would fall 30 million people short of universal coverage, 10 years after full implementation.
This much-anticipated health care blueprint sets the stage for meaningful reform, but voters must unite around it so that regardless of who becomes the next president, the Ryan plan can be translated into legislation and passed in Congress by veto-proof margins. Reflecting this month on individual freedom in America, which has been trampled by Obamacare, each citizen has a responsibility to reclaim independence in health care. That appears now to be within reach—maybe by July 4, 2017.
Note: This article from Virginians for Quality Healthcare is the ninth in a monthly series on Obamacare, leading up to Election Day, November 8, 2016.
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”A Better Way. Our Vision for a Confident America. Health Care” June 22, 2016.http://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-PolicyPaper.pdf
 For example, Avik Roy, “A Detailed Look At House Republicans’ First Official Plan To Replace Obamacare and Reform Health Care”, Forbes, June 22, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2016/06/22/a-detailed-look-at-house-republicans-first-official-plan-to-replace-obamacare-and-reform-entitlements
David Catron, “The GOP Plan to Replace Obamacare”, American Spectator, June 23, 2016. http://spectator.org/the-gop-plan-to-replace-obamacare/
Lewis K. Uhler and Peter J. Ferrara, “Ryan’s Obamacare Liberation”, Washington Times, June 22, 2016.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/22/paul-ryans-obamacare-liberation/