At his press conference late last week, President Obama chided congressional Republicans for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act several dozen times without offering a credible alternative. "They used to say they had a replacement," he told reporters. "That never actually arrived, right? I mean, I've been hearing about this whole replacement thing for two years -- now I just don't hear about it, because basically they don't have an agenda to provide health insurance to people at affordable rates."
Au contraire, Republicans responded.
The 173-member strong Republican Study Committee is on track to roll out legislation this fall that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act with a comprehensive alternative, Chairman Steve Scalise told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.Though it wouldn't be the first Obamacare repeal-and-replace proposal floated by individual GOP lawmakers in either chamber of Congress, the RSC bill is one that could at least gain traction on the House floor, given the conservative group's size and influence.
Oh good, it only took four years for House Republicans to come up with a health care plan they like.
So, what's in it? No one outside the Republican Study Committee actually knows, and even the RSC isn't altogether sure since the plan isn't finished. But Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who chairs the RSC, insists some of the popular provisions in "Obamacare" will remain intact, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
"We address that to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be discriminated against," he told Roll Call. But, he promised the bill would not "put in place mandates that increase the costs of health care and push people out of the insurance that they like," Scalise said.
In related news, the Republican Study Committee has a weight-loss plan in which everyone eats all the deserts they want and never exercises.
Look, it's extremely difficult to craft a health care system that protects people with pre-existing conditions while eliminating mandates, scrapping industry regulations, and keeping costs down. Indeed, it's why Republicans came up with mandates in the first place -- the mandates were seen as the lynchpin that made their larger reform efforts work.
Indeed, it's partly why Democrats used to push so hard to see the GOP alternative. Dems assumed, correctly, that once Republicans got past their talking points and chest-thumping, they'd see that actually solving the problem required provisions that some folks wouldn't like.
But let's not pre-judge, right? Maybe the right-wing members of the Republican Study Committee have figured out a creative way to help those who can't afford coverage and protect those with pre-existing conditions and reduce health care costs and cut the costs for prescription medication and cover preventive care and cut the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars -- just like the Affordable Care Act does. What's more, maybe they'll do all of this without raising taxes and/or including elements in the plan that are unpopular.
I seriously doubt it, but I suppose it's possible.
What seems more likely to me, though, is that the Republican Study Committee will eventually finish and unveil their "Obamacare" alternative and invite side-by-side comparisons between the two approaches -- which will in turn make the Affordable Care Act look even better.