Conservative governors and activists are touting a new health care proposal for Congress that they say is a consensus plan to discard Obamacare by lowering costs and improving choices for Americans.
“We know why we are here, [and that is] because there is not a single Republican, I’ll say, who has run for federal office in the last eight years that didn’t run saying that they were going to repeal this thing,” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, said of Obamacare during an event to roll out the plan Wednesday at the Hoover Institution in Washington, D.C.
“They may not have said that, but they certainly didn’t say the opposite,” Bevin said. “There is not one person that ran saying, ‘We need more of this, we need to double down,’ nobody.”
Called the Health Care Choices Proposal and published Tuesday at Medium.com, the plan is the fruition of work by coalitions of state policy experts, grassroots organizations across the country, and national think tanks designed to offer more affordable health care and more choices to consumers.
The Heritage Foundation, parent organization of The Daily Signal, is one of the think tanks behind the proposal.
Although the plan would not completely repeal Obamacare, it would convert Obamacare subsidies into block grants to the states, on the condition that states offer more health insurance choices to their residents and assist low-income and chronically sick patients.
It also recommends a broad expansion of health savings accounts, which allow consumers to save tax-free dollars to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Obamacare nearly shut out these accounts.
A memo from the Conservative Action Project, released Wednesday, echoes Bevin’s concerns and reminds lawmakers of their promises to repeal Obamacare. Leaders of conservative groups note in the memo that the average premium for individual health insurance jumped to $476 a month, a 105 percent increase, in the first four years of Obamacare.
Rick Santorum, a former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said at the event Wednesday that the proposal would direct taxpayers’ money to the block grants and health savings accounts.
“The block grant goes to the states; we do not make a recommendation of how those monies are allocated, we are leaving that to the United States Senate,” Santorum said.
Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Miss, said Obamacare is not serving citizens well.
“What we have now will not be sustainable, it will only drive future generations into paying more for their health care, it will have my children who are in their early thirties paying more trying to subsidize a general population that will be not even receiving adequate health care,” Bryant said.
Santorum also addressed the plan’s support for health savings accounts.
“Health savings accounts will expand from roughly 22 million people … to 84 million people,” he said. “Now you are talking about an army of consumers that is large enough to bend the cost curve, lower costs when it comes to health care, drive competition, [and provide] transparency when it comes to providing health care services.”
Santorum also said the plan stops the threat of single-payer, or government-run, health care advocated by lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
“We stop single-payer in its tracks. Why?” Santorum said. “Because we take the money that is now dedicated to Obamacare which is going for Medicaid expansion and for tax credits, and we eliminate those programs, we take the money out of Washington, and it goes into the states … We tear out that root that can grow into a single-payer health care system, because that money is no longer in Washington.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., praised the plan and those who worked on it in a formal statement released Wednesday.
“This idea—returning money and control to the states and localities—has been used before with great success when we reformed welfare,” Graham said. “It freed states from the grips of a Washington-knows-best bureaucracy and allowed for innovation and cutting-edge reforms.”
Bevin said the consensus plan is a way to hold members of the House and Senate accountable.
“It is simply a function of asking our Congress to stand up to the very promises they made to the people of Kentucky,” Bevin said of repealing or fixing Obamacare, adding:
The status quo is not working, period. The cost of it is more than we can bear, period. It is going to collapse under its own weight, which it already is … Both in Mississippi and in significant portions of Kentucky, and in a lot of other states, you have a single provider and that is not good. It’s the exact opposite of everything we were led to believe. It is not creating competition, it is actually suffocating competition. And this hurts who? It hurts the consumer.