Originally published Jan. 30, 2015.
I know a lot of Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but I've had a hard time figuring out what, if anything, they want to take its place. That's unfortunate, given the power they hold in North Carolina and in Congress.
Philip Klein, commentary editor for the conservative Washington Examiner, agrees. "If opponents of the law want to win the war over the future of the nation's medical system, they will have to unite around an alternative approach," he writes in "Overcoming Obamacare: Three Approaches to Reversing the Government Takeover of Health Care."
Klein argues that there's not really a dearth of GOP alternatives. Instead, he says, there are too many –and all of them tend to get drowned out in general discourse by the "repeal" rhetoric.
Health reform has never been a favorite GOP issue, except for opposing expansion of government's role, Klein writes. You can fire up a conservative crowd by talking about tax cuts, gun rights, immigration or the war on terror, he says, but don't expect to get cheers for talking about tax treatment of health insurance.
"When Republicans utter phrases such as 'repeal and replace,' what conservatives often hear is 'Obamacare Lite.' As a result, the prevailing question on the right often becomes, 'Why can't we just repeal the law and be done with the health care issue?' The answer is that even if simple repeal were politically obtainable, Americans would still be left with a broken health care system."
Klein groups the alternatives into three camps: Reform, replace and restart. I'll loop back to these options. For now, I'll settle for noting that Klein, like many of other political perspectives, believes more and better information about the cost of health care is essential. "Give consumers the motivation they need to save money and the information they need to do so, and suppliers of goods and services will respond by providing better value," he writes. "For the most part, neither feature exists in the American health care system."