Quote: GOP abuzz with ACA tweaks, replacements

Republicans are considering several ideas for how to proceed. [Republican Senator Ron] Johnson argued that Congress should do away with the mandate that most people obtain insurance, but not the online exchanges at the heart of the law. Instead, he said, the options in the marketplaces should be augmented by other choices that fall short of the law’s coverage standards, such as catastrophic health plans. […]

Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, said she was teaming up with Democrats on a host of incremental changes to the law, such as expanding health savings accounts and repealing a tax on medical devices. And other Republicans are wondering aloud how long they can keep up the single-minded tactic of highlighting what is wrong with the law without saying what they would do about the problems it was supposed to address.

Representative Tom Price, Republican of Georgia, a physician and a prominent conservative voice on health care, is pushing what he calls the Empowering Patients First Act, which would repeal the health care law but keep its prohibition on exclusions for pre-existing conditions in private health insurance.

The bill would allow for insurance to be sold across state lines, push small businesses to pool together to buy insurance for their employees, expand tax-free health savings accounts, cap malpractice lawsuits, and offer tax credits of $2,163 for individuals and $5,799 for families to buy health plans.

The American Action Forum, a conservative advocacy group run by Douglas Holtz Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, analyzed the Price plan this month. The group concluded that it would lower insurance premiums by as much as 19 percent by 2023, while leaving the ranks of the uninsured about five percentage points higher than the Affordable Care Act would by then.

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012 and a possible 2016 presidential hopeful, is preparing his own health insurance plan for release early next year.

Mr. Ryan’s plan will build on one that he and Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, introduced in 2009, according to aides familiar with it. The proposal, called the Patients’ Choice Act, would have eliminated the tax break for employer-provided health care to finance a tax credit of about $5,700 for families and $2,300 for individuals. States would have been asked to create insurance marketplaces like the ones many have created under the Affordable Care Act.

As with the Obama health care law, the Ryan proposal demanded that insurers meet minimum standards of coverage and be prevented from excluding the sick. But instead of mandating penalties for failing to buy insurance, the approach would have automatically enrolled people unless they opted out.

Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times.

It being an election year, the safe money is that nothing of significance becomes law. The caveat would be if the ACA clearly and badly fails in more than a few states and for reasons beyond the control of those states (refusing to expand Medicaid hardly counts). Frankly, I don’t think that we’ll be able to make that assessment until next year.

@afrakt

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