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Our view: GOP hopes Obamacare alternative will help

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U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has outlined a new plan that would offer a conservative solution to the problem-riddled, much delayed Affordable Care Act, known in general terms as Obamacare.

Each anniversary of the bill’s passage brings yet another reason for Republicans to criticize it, and we’ve just hit the four-year mark. That said, the Republicans hardly have to look far to find reasons to rally against it.

With polls showing it’s still wildly unpopular as another Congressional mid-term election approaches, President Barack Obama’s administration enacts delay after delay in implementing it after his Pinnochio-winning performance when he repeatedly told us, “If you like your health care, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep him.”

Pinnichios, of course, are awarded by the Washington Post’s fact-checking wing in recognition of the wooden boy from literature whose nose grew with every mistruth. More Pinnochios means a bigger tale and four is the maximum. This statement, repeated over and over by the president, was also dubbed the “Lie of the Year.”

Obama and the Democrats are trying to position the Republicans as a do-nothing group that only serves to oppose the Democrats. Grand Ole Party opposition drew their ire so much that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had the Senate repeal a rule saying a filibuster could be ended by a simple majority essentially terminating the 200-year-old tactic when it was employed against judicial nominees and executive branch nominees. The vote to change the filibuster rule went 52-48 along party lines.

Now, Alexander and the Republicans are taking aim at the Democrats with a new proposal for health care, seeking to shore up the claims that all they seek to do is to obstruct.

According to a press release last week issued by the Alexander camp, “Look back at the health care debate as the president rammed his bill through Congress four years ago and you’ll discover something: Republicans were right. We said the president would never be able to keep his promise that Americans could keep their plans under Obamacare. We said his bill would raise individual premiums. We said patients would have fewer choices in providers. We were right about all of it.

“Republicans had better ideas then about going step by step with reforms to increase competition, increase choice, put patients back in charge, and reduce the cost of health care so that more people could afford it. And as the president issues endless delays and repeals of his own law, we’re showing Americans that Republicans have better solutions today to fix the mess Obamacare has created.”

Alexander’s press release went on to outline nine steps the GOP would take to fix health care after repealing Obamacare:

1. Make Medicare solvent so seniors can depend on it to be there for them and their grandchildren.

2. Give governors more flexibility with their state Medicaid programs so they can lower costs, improve health outcomes and have more money for other programs like education and roads.

3. Strengthen innovative workplace wellness programs that empower employees with more incentives to make healthy lifestyle choices.

4. Let small businesses pool their resources and offer lower cost insurance plans for their employees.

5. Provide families the opportunity to purchase insurance across state lines, creating greater competition between insurance companies and lowering premiums for everyone. 

6. Expand access to health savings accounts and catastrophic health insurance plans, giving people more affordable insurance options that fit their lifestyles.

7. Incentivize the growth of private health insurance exchanges to give consumers expanded health insurance choices and allow them to keep insurance between jobs.

8. Make it easier for patients to compare prices and quality of doctors and medical services.

9. Incentivize states to reform junk lawsuits that drive up health care costs for everyone and are driving medical professionals out of their profession.The question remaining is will America listen. There’s no doubt that Obamacare has been plagued with problems ranging from truth in advertising, to the website rollout to truth in reporting. (They say five million people are signed up but will not say how many of those have actually paid after the Congressional Budget Office said seven million people was the number needed to make it work.)

We’re not keen on another attempt to repeal Obamacare until after this year’s election; the reality is that a repeal doesn’t have the votes to pass and will only serve to give fuel to the Democrats who claim obstructionism. But if the Republicans can convince America that they have something better than the politically toxic Affordable Care Act to fix America’s health care system – which was broken long before Obamacare – then they may just be able to get the votes they need to repeal it after the November election.

The solution touted by Alexander and the Republicans may be the right start, but it won’t matter if the media doesn’t report it or if the people don’t listen to it.

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