This Price is right

A doc­tor should know best how to care­fully re­place Oba­macare

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

With their vow to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and the Repub­li­cans have ven­tured onto thin ice. The dis­mal fate of the Democrats who pre­ceded them onto the ice, and break­ing through it, is a cau­tion­ary tale about the con­se­quences of not keep­ing prom­ises. Come In­au­gu­ra­tion Day, the na­tion’s new lead­er­ship had best hus­tle past the health care hazards lest they take an icy bath, too.

Mr. Trump’s choice of a physi­cian, Dr. Tom Price, to run the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, is a promis­ing be­gin­ning. It’s the com­mon-sense ap­proach to gov­ern­ment that Amer­i­cans ex­pected when they elected the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man to the pres­i­dency. An or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon and a Ge­or­gia con­gress­man, Dr. Price com­bines knowl­edge of the heal­ing arts with an ex­pe­ri­enced per­spec­tive on what’s wrong in Wash­ing­ton.

An Oba­macare makeover is just what the doc­tor or­dered. Dr. Price’s long­stand­ing re­place­ment leg­is­la­tion, the Empowering Pa­tients First Act, can be the ini­tial blue­print. It calls for end­ing Oba­macare as a gov­ern­ment man­date and sub­sti­tutes an ar­ray of pri­vate in­sur­ance plans. Buy­ers can buy one that best suits them. Forc­ing Amer­i­cans to buy a pol­icy that some can’t af­ford and oth­ers don’t want — or pay a penalty — is fun­da­men­tally wrong. To trick the pub­lic into buy­ing into so­cial­ized medicine demon­strates a fun­da­men­tal blind­ness in the party’s gov­ern­ing phi­los­o­phy.

Oba­macare cur­rently re­quires ap­pli­cants for fed­eral sub­si­dies to un­dergo an in­tru­sive process of gov­ern­ment ver­i­fi­ca­tion of fi­nan­cial el­i­gi­bil­ity. The Price plan would in­stead pro­vide fam­i­lies with re­fund­able tax cred­its amount­ing to $4,000 an­nu­ally for a cou­ple who files a joint tax re­turn, plus $500 for each de­pen­dent, which would help off­set the cost of health in­sur­ance.

In con­trast to Pres­i­dent Obama’s bro­ken Oba­macare prom­ise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” a sub­sti­tute plan would en­able the 155 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who are sat­is­fied with their em­ployer-pro­vided in­sur­ance to stick with it. Those with­out that op­tion could join pools that boost their pur­chas­ing power in an open mar­ket­place en­com­pass­ing all 50 states, not just the state where they live.

The great­est chal­lenge to a health care do-over is how to pro­vide af­ford­able in­sur­ance for those with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. Left to the mercy of the free mar­ket, their pre­mi­ums are sky-high now and likely to go higher. To­gether with the in­sured pool with low-risk pol­i­cy­hold­ers, they drive up every­one’s costs to­ward un­af­ford­abil­ity. The deal-mak­ing pres­i­dent will need his A-game to find a so­lu­tion Amer­i­cans can live with.

The new Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion must elim­i­nate Oba­macare pro­vi­sions that use tax­payer money to bail out in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in the Oba­macare ex­changes for their losses. A fed­eral dis­trict court has ruled such pay­ments un­law­ful — with­out the proper ap­pro­pri­a­tion by Congress, Team Obama has es­sen­tially pil­fered $5 bil­lion from the Trea­sury to pay back the in­sur­ers. With a con­gres­sion­ally au­tho­rized fi­nan­cial bridge back to a com­pet­i­tive busi­ness model, com­pa­nies must re­sist gov­ern­ment tam­per­ing in the mar­ket­place in re­turn for sketchy prom­ises of guar­an­teed sales.

Mr. Trump should not ex­pect much help from Democrats, who vow to re­sist all ef­forts to re­place Oba­macare. This de­spite the pres­i­dent’s scheme hav­ing plunged the party to its low­est ebb in pub­lic es­teem in gen­er­a­tions. The way for Repub­li­cans to en­sure they don’t fol­low them is to pro­duce a re­place­ment plan that en­ables all Amer­i­cans to choose the health care cov­er­age that is right for them. To get that done Dr. Price and the party must be ready to move with speed be­fore the ice cracks around them, too.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.