If you’ve been craving red meat health care policy from the Republican candidates, hopefuls Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have something they’d like you to take a look at. This week both candidates introduced voters to their plans to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s controversial health care reforms with policies they claim will roll back government intervention while still protecting Americans from the effects of another health care overhaul.
Rubio’s plan is anchored by three primary components:
- “Advanceable, refundable tax credits”—according to Rubio, he envisions these credits increasing in value, and would also include relief for employers who provide insurance.
- Regulatory reform—Rubio wants to enable purchases across state lines, expand and encourage the use of HSAs, and implement protections for people with preexisting conditions.
- Medicare and Medicaid reform—Rubio plans to implement a block-grant system for Medicaid funding, and craft policies that will transition future Medicare recipients into a system based on choice and free market competition.
Rubio announced this plan in an editorial for Politico:
ObamaCare is fatally flawed not just because it is poorly constructed, but because it relies on the outdated philosophy that the federal government can solve our problems through more spending, more taxes, more regulations, and more bureaucrats. The American people have been forced to be the test subjects of President Obama’s one-size-fits-all, big-government experiment, and have paid dearly for it.
For all of these reasons and more, I have fought against ObamaCare since I got to the U.S. Senate. I led the charge to stop its taxpayer-funded bailouts of the insurance industry and, fortunately, was successful in blocking them from taking place this year. But more must be done, and when I am president, repealing and replacing ObamaCare will be an urgent priority of my administration. Instead of relying on an outdated, big-government approach, I will utilize modern, consumer-centered reforms that lower costs, embrace innovation in healthcare and actually increase choices and improve quality of care.
Fellow candidate Scott Walker also unveiled his plan this week, touting its conservative-friendly reforms as a revival of promises to “repeal and replace” he says have been broken by members of Congress.
“People all across this country are fed up with Washington, I feel your pain, I’m fed up with Washington, too,” Walker said. “I think about this, we were told by Republican leaders during the campaign cycle last year that we just needed a Republican Senate to be elected to repeal Obamacare. Well here we sit, you know both chambers of the United States Congress have been controlled since January by Republicans and yet there’s not a bill on the president’s desk to repeal Obamacare.”
Walker, who has argued throughout the campaign that he is best positioned to win conservative reforms in Washington, recounted taking on legislative Republicans in Wisconsin when he won his first term as governor.
“I said to them the voters had told us they wanted is to be big and be bold,” Walker said. “As you can imagine, at the time, there were some Republican lawmakers who were kind of uneasy with the idea of taking on the status quo. I said it’s put up or shut up time.”
Walker’s plan also relies on tax credits; those aged 17 and under would be granted a $900 tax credit, and the grant would increase in amount to $3000 for those aged 50 to 64. Additionally, the new plan would offer a $1000 tax credit to anyone who signs up for an HSA; the goal of this, says Walker’s team, is to reduce premiums by as much as 25%. Similar to Rubio, Walker includes provisions protecting those with preexisting conditions from losing their coverage, or seeing spikes in their premiums.
The overall goal of the Walker plan falls in line with the campaign’s anti-establishment narrative—to slash and streamline the federal government’s place in health care. Walker plans on paying for the cost of his plan by making cuts to entitlement programs like Medicaid, and levying a tax on “Cadillac” plans.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) August 18, 2015
Walker and Rubio aren’t the first candidates to release health care policy overhauls—Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal offered his last year—but these dueling plans (and their dueling narratives) set up what could be the first substantive policy battle between this cycle’s candidates.
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