House Republicans’ Imperfect Health Care Plan is a Step in the Right Direction

Campaigning is easy. Legislating is hard. And now that the election is well behind us, House Republicans deserve credit for rolling up their sleeves to get to the hard work of translating campaign promises into legislation.

There’s a lot to like in the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, known as the American Health Care Act. Gone is the individual mandate that is anathema to the constitutional principle of limited government, as are most of the onerous and costly Obamacare taxes.

The bill would also devolve much of the responsibility of insuring the uninsured to the states through the creation of the Patient and State Stability Fund, which would provide states with federal dollars to customize the health care needs of low-income Americans.

Critics from the Left will scoff at this on principle, but the Obamacare experiment has exposed the difficulty of coercing every state to adopt uniformity. That’s impossible in a country as diverse as ours. The Founders had it right when embracing federalism. It was important then, and it’s important now.

the Obamacare experiment has exposed the difficulty of coercing every state to adopt uniformity.

Perhaps most importantly, the American Health Care Act does much to compel individuals to take greater ownership of their healthcare. One of the best ways it does this is by expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Around for years, but mostly utilized by middle and upper class Americans who already receive health insurance through their employers, HSAs are a great way to save (tax-free) for health related costs. This includes the cost of prescription drugs and out of pocket expenses for preventive care and routine medical check ups. Under the House Republicans plan, individuals would be able to nearly double what they can currently contribute to their HSAs.

As Opportunity Lives has been reporting, Indiana has embraced this idea on a smaller scale with nominal success. Enacted under then-Gov. Mike Pence, the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) are saving accounts that are allowing some Hoosiers the flexibility and choice of deciding how to spend their own money on health related costs. The state also contributes to these accounts.

Of course, HSAs are not enough to cover healthcare costs. To address this, Republicans are proposing tax credits to offset the costs of purchasing health care coverage. That’s why they are proposing monthly tax credits, adjusted for age and income ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $14,000.

Such provisions go a long way toward providing individuals without insurance through their employers with the means to purchase a plan that works best for them. The most important problem for most folks is that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is not affordable to many — particularly the young and the healthy.

Such provisions go a long way toward providing individuals without insurance through their employers with the means to purchase a plan that works best for them.

It’s still unclear how the American Health Care Act would slow the growth of healthcare costs and bring down the costs of health insurance, but the legislation would do much to begin the process of doing much of the heavy lifting.

Republicans could have also waited to have the Congressional Budget Office — or an independent nonpartisan group — score the bill to determine the price tag before rolling it out, but the window to act is small. It’s understandable why Republicans want to act quickly.

Ultimately House Republicans deserve credit for laying out a detailed and substantive health care plan. It’s imperfect and has room to improve. But to dismiss it immediately, as some on the Right already have, is political suicide.

It seems as though some of the House Republicans who have come out against the American Health Care Act may become too accustomed to being the opposition party. Why not work with House leadership to improve the bill?

Fact is, Republicans control Congress and the White House, which means the weight and responsibility of governing falls squarely on their shoulders.

If Republicans can’t deliver on this, voters will lose confidence that a unified Republican government is capable of doing anything other than political posturing. This is what’s at stake.

Israel Ortega is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.