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ACA Agonistes
Picking Up the Pace Toward a GOP Health Bill

Will the GOP enter the midterms with a serious health care plan or simply run negative messaging against Obamacare? Recent signs are encouraging for those who’d like the Republicans to pursue the former option, as the WSJ reports. House majority leader Eric Cantor has promised a House vote on a GOP plan before the end of the year, and now the Republican Study Committee is pushing the process forward. Lead by Rep. Steve Scalise, the group has put together a plan (one of many) and wants to bring it to a vote sooner rather than later:

Mr. Scalise and others in his group said they aren’t insisting GOP leaders bring their bill to the floor. Rather, they want to remind leaders that it is one option among many proposed GOP health bills—and that, with 130 co-sponsors, it already has the support of a majority of House Republicans. “We want to show there is a critical mass behind a bill that’s already drafted,” Mr. Scalise said.

The push from RSC lawmakers comes as House leaders and senior lawmakers are still hashing out thorny policy questions. Their goal is to bring a GOP bill or a series of bills to the floor before Congress’ August recess, according to House GOP aides.

This plan has a lot in common with others put forward. In particular it advances an idea popular in theory on both sides of the aisle: cap the tax credit for employer-provided insurance, and provide a standard tax credit for individuals to use to purchase their own insurance. Everyone would get the same credit, then—the employer credit would be capped at the standard individual credit level, so that everything above that gets taxed—and the credit would be portable. This delinking of insurance from employment is a key goal for health reform, and makes good sense now that people change jobs frequently. But if passed, it would cause lots of disruption and cancellations in the insurance market—perhaps worse than the ones the ACA caused late last year.

Whether the GOP will ultimately produce a good plan remains to be seen—several rounds of changes and voting and jockeying remain before us. But it’s good to see the discussion moving forward. It would be a shame in our present health care crisis for one party to abandon constructive proposals for purely negative campaigning.

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  • Thirdsyphon

    I hope the GOP brings a bill to replace the ACA to the floor of the house (and ideally passes it), but there’s approximately zero chance of that happening. The Republican leadership is well aware that the only thing less popular than the Democratic policy agenda is their own. Every time the House votes on a significant part of the Republican platform (see, e.g., the Ryan Budget), their poll numbers tank overnight. The GOP will just keep doing what it’s been doing all along: complaining about the failings of the Democrats and hoping that the election will be a referendum on Obama.

    • Bruce

      Despite blogs that want “constructive proposals,” campaigning against the ACA is probably good politics, although not pure enough for many. Given that the odds of ACA being repealed and replaced are near zero with Obama in the White House, a little negative campaigning seems highly logical and in step with the feelings of the populace. After all, the goal is not to please bloggers that voted for Obama. The goal is to re-gain power.

      • Thirdsyphon

        And they well might, but if they do it won’t be for long. The GOP has apparently learned nothing from its time in the wilderness, which portends a swift return to it.

  • Boritz

    ” A long last we might finally have a proper health care debate between serious alternatives.”

    Can’t be allowed to happen. Instead we will have demagoguery and incitement of lies that include but are not limited to the desire of Republicans, controlled by the Far Right/Tea Party, to continue a hate fueled war on minorities and women using healthcare as a vengeance weapon. The more moderate voices on the Left will simply observe that any Republican plan is stupid and causes great harm. I [can] write this not having read the specifics of the Republican proposals this time around. But a “proper health care debate” was a good idea although “alternatives” is a dirty word in this context as it implies individual choice not limited to the final disposition of a fetus.

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