With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) the question arises what to replace it with. Democrats constantly accuse Republicans of having no plan, but Republicans in Congress and conservative think tanks have proposed numerous common sense approaches to health care reform.
Before Obamacare, the laws and regulations that govern the healthcare industry, like state and federal tax codes, were a complex patchwork of legislation and decisions stacked one on another after decades of special interest lobbying, partisan political wrangling, and honest attempts to correct real problems. Both Democrats and Republicans in the United States Congress and state legislatures are responsible for the current situation.
Obamacare only made the problem of health care in the United States much worse with a 2,700 page law that no one who voted on it read before Congress passed it. Even Justice Anthony Scalia said it would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) to be forced to read it.
So what can Congress do to replace Obamacare?
Republicans have put forth numerous serious proposals. None of them get any traction because Democrats control all Senate and the White House.
If a Republican wins the presidential election in November, however, here’s what they can pass to truly reform health care and make it more efficient and affordable for all.
Allow people to buy healthcare insurance across state lines. Currently, employers and employees must choose from a limited number of healthcare insurance plans offered on a state-by-state basis that include coverage for benefits most Americans will never need that drive up policy prices. If people could choose coverage that satisfies their families specific needs from the approximately 1400 plans available nationwide, interstate competition would drive the cost of all healthcare insurance down.
Tort reform. Frivolous malpractice law suits and excessive damage awards by juries force doctors to order unnecessary and duplicative tests and drive up the cost of malpractice insurance. Comprehensive tort reform legislation would contribute greatly to reducing healthcare costs. Trial lawyers are major contributors to the Democratic Party and are the principal obstacle to tort reform.
Low-cost catastrophic coverage. There was a time in the United States when healthcare insurance was called “major medical.” It covered hospitalization and prolonged illness. Millions of young, healthy Americans choose not to buy health insurance because they can’t afford it and don’t believe they need it. Offering them low-cost catastrophic coverage and incentives to buy it, either through their employer or on the open market, would greatly decrease the number of uninsured in this category.
Pre-existing conditions. Forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions without waiting periods in a non-universal-healthcare environment has its challenges; but they’re not insurmountable. As with auto insurance, government can require healthcare insurance companies to share the risk for people in this category.
Subsidies for the truly needy. A principle of American democracy that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans agree on is that there must be a safety net for those people not capable taking care of themselves. Federal and state governments should provide subsidies and tax credits for those people to buy private health insurance. There has always been a tug of war over where government should draw the line in defining the truly needy, but this also isn’t difficult.