ObamaCare is on the ropes, and no one can say at this time whether the Democrats in the House and Senate will ship it to the President without Republican support. If so, Republicans might be handed a gift that will keep on giving. Or perhaps as Mark Steyn predicts, every issue in future elections would be about the level of government service as Americans become less self reliant and voters want more and more from the government.
Most agree that the current medical care distribution system is flawed. And there is fierce opposition to ObamaCare's "Public Option," i.e., government run medical service. However, there are alternatives to ObamaCare on the table. The other day we discussed Bob Inglis's plan. Link. The topic today is the "Patient Choice Act of 2009," a plan introduced last May by four Republicans -- Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Devin Nunes (R-CA.
The key component of the plan would be state insurance exchanges which would allow consumers to shop for and compare insurance plans. And the key word is "optional." Participation by states would be optional. Participation by insurance companies would be optional, and participation by customers would be optional.
In states which choose to participate, no customer could be excluded because of age, health or pre-existing conditions. "Plans participating in the exchange must offer at least the same minimum health benefits made available to Members of Congress," according to the summary PDF.
The exchanges must have a mechanism to avoid excessive premiums. And to protect uninsurable individuals, the exchanges would have to include independent risk adjustment, pools or reinsurance.
To help the customers pay the premiums the tax code would be changed to redirect the tax benefit from the employer to the customer as well as give a tax credit to the customer which could only be used for insurance premiums or medical expenses. Any excess could be rolled over at the end of the year. And the HSA contribution limits would be raised.
Go to Senator Coburn's Health Care Reform page for links to the bill, FAQs, a short summary, a long summary, a section by section summary, and just about anything one would want to know about it.
Aside: After having read through enough PDFs to make my eyes cross, I wonder how many Americans might be tempted to simply say "to hell with it," and go along with the ObamaCare government run program rather than have to read and choose from among several insurance policies. Well, there's a selling point for Dr. Coburn's proposal. States which put in place a smart exchange program will make the choice as easy as selecting a cell phone carrier.
Hey, it just might work.