The elusive GOP health care alternative

Updated
 

It was one of those details that was generally overlooked, but during the fight over health care reform in 2009 and 2010, congressional Republicans promised, over and over again, to come up with a GOP alternative to “Obamacare.” They weren’t just attacking the Democratic plan, they said, Republicans were committed to presenting their own meaningful solutions.

After missing a series of self-imposed deadlines, Republican leaders slapped together a half-hearted joke – the plan largely ignored the uninsured, did nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and offered nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it’s needed most.

That was 28 months ago. The GOP hasn’t even tried to do any real policy work on the issue since.

Republicans are eager for the Supreme Court to turn back the clock, undo the recent national progress, and strip Americans who’ve benefited from the Affordable Care Act of their coverage and protections, but even now, GOP officials haven’t the foggiest idea what, if anything, they’d do for struggling American families if “Obamacare” is repealed or struck down.

A ruling striking down the health law could pose future political problems for Republicans if Americans are still unable to find affordable health insurance or if policies provide inadequate coverage.

Republican lawmakers with experience on health care issues acknowledge that they will have to take action should the health law fall, and planning for the next steps has kicked into high gear. […]

“Our wheels are beginning to turn,” said Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which would have a large role in developing Republican alternatives to the Obama health care law.

Is that so. Three years after beginning work on a Republican alternative on health care reform, and two years after assuring the public that GOP policymakers will “replace” the Affordable Care Act with a credible policy after Obamacare is “repealed,” now Republicans’ “wheels are beginning to turn”?

The point here is not to simply laugh at GOP officials’ reluctance to take policy matters seriously. Rather, the point is the larger salience for the public that couldn’t rely on the dysfunctional mess the Affordable Care Act has been cleaning up.

As Greg Sargent explained, “Now that Obamacare’s demise is a real possibility, the question of what Republicans would do instead is no longer a symbolic one. Republicans can no longer rail about repealing Obamacare, secure in the knowledge that they don’t have to come up with anything to replace it. They may very well get their way… So again, what do Republicans … think the federal government should do for the nation’s tens of millions of uninsured? Is the answer basically ‘Nothing’?”

Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

The elusive GOP health care alternative

Updated