The Republican Study Committee, a group of 175 conservative members of the House GOP, is backing a new health care proposal. The bill is new, but the ideas are relatively familiar: tax credits, high risk pools, and the continuation of a rules requiring continuity of coverage for the already insured. AP has the details:
A large group of House conservatives intends to unveil legislation providing an expanded tax break for consumers who purchase their own health coverage and increasing the government funding for high-risk pools, according to lawmakers who said the plan marked the Republicans' first comprehensive alternative to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Under the proposal endorsed by the Republican Study Committee, individuals who purchase coverage approved for sale in their state could claim a deduction of $7,500 against their income and payroll taxes, regardless of the cost of the insurance. Families could deduct $20,000.
...Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., who led a small group that drafted the measure, said the tax deduction would ensure that individuals and families enjoy "the same buying power" as employers who are permitted to deduct the cost of coverage they provide to their workers.
He also said the commitment of $25 billion over 10 years to defray the cost of coverage for high-risk patients would ease a problem caused when funding provided under Obama's plan ran out. Premiums in the high-risk pools would be capped at twice the average cost of insurance sold in the state.
Individuals with pre-existing conditions who already have coverage would generally be permitted to shift existing insurance without fear of losing it.
The legislation also includes expanded access to health savings accounts, which are tax-preferred accounts used to pay medical expenses by consumers enrolled in high-deductible coverage plans.
The introduction of this proposal is pretty clearly a response to the frequent complaint that Republicans have no ideas or alternatives on health care. The GOP's problem with health policy has never been that it has no ideas whatsoever. It's that the party has never coalesced around, or made a concerted attempt to sell, a coherent reform plan. There's no operating theory about what's wrong with the health system, or how it ought to work, which is why you sometimes see Republican legislators suggesting that the only real problem with the U.S. health system is the existence of Obamacare, and maybe a few insurance mandates as well. Some of the recurring Republican ideas, like allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, are pretty good. But the party's ideas tend to be scattered, and focused on tweaking the Medicare/Medicaid/tax-advantaged-employer-coverage system rather than attempting to address its root problems.