GOP Finally Reaches ‘Replace’ Phase Of The ‘Repeal And Replace’ Plan

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Campbell North Contributor
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Note: Campbell North will be guest posting in this space this summer. Her first report comes from Wednesday’s presentation of Speaker Ryan’s Task Force on Health Care Reform at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

A lot has happened since 2010. Instagram launched, South Sudan gained independence, marijuana was legalized in some states, a new pope was chosen, Edward Snowden became a household name, and scientists created life with synthetic DNA. And oh yeah, the Republican Party finally managed to coalesce around one lonely alternative option to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — six years after it original promised to do so. God, bless red tape; God, bless America.

To be fair to the GOP, it took nearly as long for the Obama administration to get the ACA and state exchange websites running and fully functional. We should have all had the foresight of David Letterman:

“Obama said they’ve had some glitches with the Affordable Care website. I’ll tell you something. If you order a pair of pants online and they send you the wrong color, that’s a glitch. This is like a Carnival cruise, for God’s sake!”

On top of it all, premiums are expected to rise nationwide. For states like Arizona, increases could rise as high as 53 percent.

That’s where Republicans step in. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and a health care reform task force revealed a conservative alternative to the ACA that would help reduce spending at the American Enterprise Institute.

While originally advertised as a concrete “plan,” the presentation offered broad-based solutions. (In all fairness, Ryan did say that the plan was more of a general consensus than structured legislation.)

The panel emphasized that the plan would focus on patient-centered care, valuing quality over quantity. “It is true, more people have become insured under the Affordable Care Act,” Ryan said. “It is also true that there is a decrease in quality with higher premiums and longer wait lines.”

The GOP hopes to overcome this challenging by re-incentivizing companies to compete for business, hopefully inspiring innovation and quality-control.

The plan also called for the creation of a “health care backpack” that can travel with you from state-to-state and job-to-job, without changes to your plan. Under the new proposal, people would be able to buy insurance across state lines, receive tax credits if they were in individual insurance markets, set up Health Savings Accounts, and it would protect the ability of employers to self-insure.

States would exercise greater discretion under the proposal. Local governments would be allowed to set work requirements for healthy Medicaid recipients and establish risk pools so no one falls through the cracks.

The plan preserves some provisions of the ACA, tweaking the best parts and slapping a GOP label on it — as is the American way (Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood know this game all too well. So does Donald Trump). Among these were maintaining guaranteed renewability for pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on parents insurance until the age of twenty-six.

This long-awaited plan is but an opening gambit in what will likely be a long war. It is unclear whether the Republicans or the Democrats will play Diane Keaton or Jack Nicholson in this scenario. But one thing is for certain — something’s gotta give.