August 22 2013
Okay, I don’t want to brag, but I did predict that the new Democratic mantra would be that the GOP wants to destroy ObamaCare without offering an alternative.
President Obama debuted this slur in a then-little-noticed moment in his pre-Martha’s Vineyard press conference. He said:
[Republican opposition to ObamaCare] is hard to understand as a -- an agenda that is going to strengthen our middle class. At least they used to say, well, we're going to replace it with something better. There's not even a pretense now that they're going to replace it with something better.”
The refrain predictably has been taken up by the Democratic National Committee, which claims the GOP is “out of ideas.” New York Times columnist and the Washington Post’s pro-Obama blogger Ezra Klein quickly followed suit.
But there’s a problem (albeit not one that is likely to give the Obama administration pause): this is not true.
The GOP has presented many, many creative and cost-saving ideas on how to improve health care, all of which have fallen on deaf Democratic ears.
Karl Rove enumerates some of the plans put forth by Republicans today in the Wall Street Journal. Here is a partial list of Republicans who have put forward health care alternatives to ObamaCare: Sen. Tom Cockburn (also a doctor), Senator Mike Enzi, Rep. Charles Boustany (a cardiovascular surgeon), Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Paul Ryan, and the Republican Study Committee. But these aren’t all:
Defensive medicine—the use of unnecessary tests and procedures to ward off malpractice suits—cost Medicare and Medicaid an estimated $55.6 billion in 2008, according to a 2010 study in Health Affairs. Thus Texas Rep. Lamar Smith has championed medical liability reform at the federal level to rein in junk lawsuits, despite qualms that the issue should be left to the states.
Texas Reps. Mike Burgess (who practiced obstetrics and gynecology) and Joe Barton have introduced bills to establish transparency in pricing and medical outcomes so patients can compare the costs for procedures at area hospitals and their relative success in performing them. Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, also a physician, has introduced a bill that would allow Medicaid patients to convert the value of their government benefit to pay for private coverage.
Republicans have put these and other ideas into comprehensive reform packages. Georgia Rep. Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon, has introduced a comprehensive alternative to ObamaCare that includes many of the GOP's reforms. Tennessee's Phil Roe, a retired OB/GYN, will introduce a new ObamaCare replacement package next month when Congress returns. Mr. Enzi first introduced a comprehensive bill including GOP reform proposals in 2007 and has updated it regularly. …
As Wyoming's Sen. John Barrasso, one of the GOP's leading health-care reformers and an orthopedic surgeon, puts it: "Republicans have ideas that actually deliver what Americans want—lower costs and greater access. Our ideas will win because they will improve health care in our country."
The Democrats fundamentally disagree with Republicans on how to reform health care. Whereas Republicans want more patient control, the Democrats prefer bureaucratic control. It is clear that many of them would like to use the inadequacies of ObamaCare to move to a single-payer system. This is why it is so important for them to portray the GOP as not having ideas.
If you read one story today, it has to be this one: It is the fascinating saga of a man who saved $17,000 by not using his medical insurance. Unfortunately, ObamaCare takes us all in the opposite direction, eliminating the role of the patient in paying and making choices.