Under the proposal…individuals who purchase coverage approved for sale in their state could claim a deduction of $7,500 against their income and payroll taxes, regardless of the cost of the insurance. Families could deduct $20,000….The commitment of $25 billion over 10 years to defray the cost of coverage for high-risk patients would ease a problem caused when funding provided under Obama’s plan ran out. Premiums in the high-risk pools would be capped at twice the average cost of insurance sold in the state….The legislation also includes expanded access to health savings accounts, which are tax-preferred accounts used to pay medical expenses by consumers enrolled in high-deductible coverage plans.
We don’t yet know enough about this plan to judge whether it’s a plausible alternative to Obamacare. On first glance, many wonks have been unimpressed. We wouldn’t expect Matt Ygelsias to back any Republican health care plan, but his criticism of this proposal was particularly withering: some Republicans seem to think they can both prevent insurers from charging more to cover those with pre-existing conditions and keep prices low throughout the whole system, which seems to be basically impossible.But even if this plan is a halting first step, it’s something we’ve been waiting to see for a long time. Now that the Republican leadership is putting a plan out there, we at least have something to discuss and debate, something that can be knocked about, refined, and improved upon. The discussion can finally shift from Obamacare’s flaws or merits to an actual comparison of plans in light of what we’ve learned so far. All of this will make for a much more robust and productive conversation than we’ve being having so far.