Florida Senator Marco Rubio (shown, left) and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan (shown, right) — potential Republican presidential contenders for 2016 — have teamed up to create a Republican alternative to ObamaCare. They are hoping to have their plan completed for a vote by next year.
As noted by CNN, though Ryan and Rubio began discussing this plan in the spring, the effort has gained “momentum” after the Republicans took back the Senate and Ryan ascended to a top House committee post.
Following the midterm elections, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) outlined a number of items they plan to focus on in the new Congress, including repealing ObamaCare.
At the moment, the plan’s details have been kept quiet, with spokesmen stating that discussions are in progress. A spokesman for Ryan told CNN that the Wisconsin Republican "has been talking with reformers, like Senator Rubio, about solutions to deliver quality, affordable health care coverage to American families."
Ryan has been a vocal critic of ObamaCare, stating that it will “collapse under its own weight.” He asserts that offering an alternative will help increase the odds of repealing the healthcare law. "The sooner those of us who want true, real reform can show a better way forward, the faster we can repeal," he said. Ryan added that an alternative plan should remove the federal "command and lead in the health-care system."
Senator Rubio took the opportunity to offer some insight into the type of alternative he envisions during a recent interview with a Denver radio station: “We want to have every American to be able to buy the kind of health insurance they want at a price that they are willing to pay and from any company in America that will sell it to you,” Rubio said. “And you should be able to buy it with either tax credit or pre-tax dollars, just like your employer pays for it if they decide to give it to you. And that's a lot better than the disaster we have right now.”
According to Senator Rubio’s website, an alternative to ObamaCare will rely on “free-market ideas,” and would allow individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines, encourage small businesses to join together to form Association Health Plans, and provide tax breaks to individuals just as they are provided to businesses. Rubio’s site also advocates healthcare that incentivizes state medical malpractice reform.
Republicans have launched a number of efforts to change or repeal ObamaCare since its passage in 2010. The Republican-controlled House has voted over 50 times to either change or repeal the law, but has not yet voted on an actual Republican proposal that would replace it. Divisions within the GOP have made it difficult for Republicans to reach an agreement on an alternative.
Ryan and Rubio are expected to have some difficulty constructing a viable alternative to ObamaCare. CNN reports, “A key issue that [Ryan] and Rubio will have to address is how any new health care bill might change or eliminate coverage for many of those who used tax credits to enroll in plans since Obamacare went into effect.”
President Obama has already indicated he will not sign any bill that completely undoes his signature law, and Republicans do not have enough votes to override a veto. Obama has stated that he would be open to changes.
“If, in fact, one of the items on Mitch McConnell’s agenda and John Boehner’s agenda is to make responsible changes to the Affordable Care Act to make it work better, I’m going to be very open and receptive to hearing those ideas,” Obama said during a news conference last week. “But what I will remind them is that despite all the contention, we now know that the law works. You've got millions of people who have health insurance who didn't have it before. You've got states that have expanded Medicaid to folks who did not have it before, including Republican governors who’ve concluded this is a good deal for their state."
Senator McConnell has indicated that under his leadership, lawmakers would seek to dismantle parts of ObamaCare, particularly ObamaCare's medical device tax and the individual mandate, both of which have been highly controversial. McConnell has also said he may use the appropriations process to accomplish a partial appeal.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to ObamaCare subsidies, which are said to be a “linchpin” of the healthcare law. According to Newsmax, a ruling against those credits could “unravel the law.”
A better solution, of course, would be for the federal government to actually follow the U.S. Constitution and stay out of healthcare entirely. Government meddling in the healthcare markets, particularly federal government meddling, is what has caused many of the problems that have led to calls for "reform" in the first place. True free-market healthcare where individuals can work directly with their doctors and where prices are transparent and competitive would bring back some sanity to the situation and be better for all Americans, including those who have difficulty affording insurance under today's system.
Photos of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at the 2014 CPAC