Republicans must win voters with their own health care plan
The Supreme Court didn’t just deliver a landmark decision last Thursday by upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It delivered a fired-up conservative base of voters to Republican candidates for federal office.
But to fully capitalize on that opportunity to advance not just their own but the nation’s best interests, GOP politicians must do more than point out the costly flaws of “Obamacare” — and the linguistic contortions required for that court ruling.
Republicans, including looming presidential nominee Mitt Romney, must offer persuasive pitches on the health care reforms they want to enact if they are able to keep their promise to repeal the law.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., advanced both missions Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
He fairly warned that Obamacare’s “savings” are based on phony numbers: “I’ve heard for years how much people don’t like the idea that we’re raiding Social Security to pay for other government programs. What Obamacare does for the first time in history is it raids Medicare to pay for Obamacare.”
And: “It puts this new board of 15 people in charge of putting price controls on Medicare, which we think will end up rationing Medicare in ways that will deny care to seniors. So not only do we think this law is bad for Medicare, it’s bad for health care, it’s terrible for the economy, and it will move us closer toward a debt crisis.”
So what would the GOP do instead?
Rep. Ryan stressed the need for “patient-centered solutions” Sunday. Last week, responding to the Supreme Court decision, he had reprised his familiar call to “equalize the tax treatment of health insurance, invite true choice and competition, and ensure critical programs like Medicare and Medicaid can deliver on their promise in the 21st century.”
Rep. Ryan further emphasized that we must “allow the market to work” as part of the solution if we are to solve the growing problem of soaring medical costs.
Mr. Romney hails market competition, consumer choice and flexibility for the states as indispensable ingredients for curing what’s wrong with the U.S. medical system. Yet he still must explain how the sweeping state health care law he championed as governor of Massachusetts, aka “Romneycare,” was different — and better — than Obamacare.
And though the electoral implications of last week’s controversial decision on a controversial law remain debatable, this economic reality is not:
The United States will either find a way to contain rising health care costs or suffer severe fiscal consequences.
Also indisputable: This year’s presidential and congressional elections offer clearly opposing alternatives on this crucial issue.
As Rep. Ryan framed that choice Sunday: “Do you want a government-centered society in a government-driven economy and government-rationed health care? Or do you want the American opportunity society with a safety net, a free economy, economic freedom, personal liberty?”
When you put it that way, the answer seems easy.
However, despite the persisting unpopularity of the health reform law, Republicans can’t take the easy way out by simply pledging to dump Obamacare.
They must provide more details, and present them more convincingly, to show that their plan is truly affordable — and fits the “opportunity society” bill while retaining an adequate “safety net.”