One of the primary obstacles to repealing the failure that is ObamaCare has been the extremely successful framing of the debate by progressives on both sides of the aisle.  The question they posit and that derails any and all attempts to rid the American people of the ObamaCare albatross that is disproportionately strangling the poor and the middle class in myriad ways is:  What will you replace it with?

This is a false choice.  No one called for a replacement of the 18th Amendment that made Prohibition not just the law of the land but a part of the U. S. Constitution.  ObamaCare is bad law.  You don’t “replace” bad law, you get rid of it.

Framing the argument as “repeal and replace” implies “if not ObamaCare then what other behemoth federal monstrosity should take its place?” and as such is a clever maneuver by ObamaCare defenders because it effectively posits that there are only two options:  ObamaCare or something just like it, i.e. another federally-mandated and -controlled health insurance system that does everything that is popular about ObamaCare and nothing that is controversial or unpopular about it.

Since 2010, Republicans have won a vast number of state and federal seats running on the repeal of ObamaCare, and most of these election conservatives (to use Ted Cruz’s term) have demurred once elected because it’s hard, they don’t have an effective or viable “replacement,” and / or they actually support ObamaCare or have accepted it as a permanent fixture.   Or all of the above.

When conservative candidates call for the repeal of ObamaCare and don’t have a detailed “replacement” plan, they are called out not just by the progressive left and the media but by other conservatives.  We saw an example of this by Bobby Jindal this week when he challenged Ted Cruz to a debate about ObamaCare.

The Washington Post reports:

Jindal said he’d like his debate with Cruz, if it ever happened, to focus on their plans for replacing President Obama’s health-care law. He also questioned the significance of Cruz’s efforts in 2013 to shut down the government.

“You get Ted Cruz who wants to shut down the government, but he’s never even come up with his own plan,” Jindal said. “We’ve written our own plan and campaigned on it, rather than just complaining about Obamacare.”

Both Cruz and Jindal will be in Wisconsin on Tuesday to participate in Fox Business Network debates. Cruz will be on the main stage, Jindal in the “undercard” debate.

Jindal does indeed have his own plan to replace ObamaCare.  His website touts it as a “comprehensive plan” based on “conservative principles” (emphasis in the original):

In 2014, I outlined a plan with America Next, the conservative policy group I founded to go on offense in the war of ideas. This plan would repeal Obamacare and start over with a new plan based on conservative principles.

While repealing Obamacare is a popular line amongst Republicans running for President, I’m the only one with a comprehensive plan to actually do it.

And comprehensive it is, including tax incentives attached to Health Savings Accounts, to the purchase of health insurance, and to “wellness”; a $100 billion taxpayer-funded “innovation pool” to cover preexisting conditions; some kind of government arm that will oversee “transparency” in medical pricing and quality of health care; and Medicaid expansion (giving states more flexibility than under ObamaCare).

Jindal’s plan also includes allowing for the purchase of insurance across state lines and tort reform.  He also mentions religious conscience, so it’s not clear if his plan will keep the sorts of coverage mandates that make the issue of religious liberty such a serious problem with ObamaCare.

Watch Jindal discuss health care reform on Special Report’s “Center Seat”:

He’s right.  He has a plan, and it is comprehensive.  So let’s look at Jindal’s statement that Cruz has not provided a “replacement’ for ObamaCare; Jindal’s right about that, too.  What Cruz does offer, however, is a framework that entails extracting the federal government from the health care insurance market and rolling back onerous federal laws and regulations that hinder access and affordability.

In March of this year, Cruz proposed the Health Care Choice Act that effectively repealed the foundations of ObamaCare and provided for the purchase of health insurance across state lines.

From Cruz’s Senate website:

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today introduced the Health Care Choice Act, which would remove Obamacare’s costly insurance mandates and allow residents in one state the option to purchase a health insurance plan of their choice in any other state. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and David Vitter (R-LA). Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 543.

“Every last word of Obamacare must be repealed,” said Sen. Cruz. “And while we continue that fight, we must also send bill after bill to the President’s desk to stop its harmful effects. The Health Care Choice Act will reduce costs, force insurers to compete for business and empower consumers to choose a health plan that meets their needs.

“The Administration has done absolutely nothing to prepare for an upcoming Supreme Court decision that could leave millions of Americans unable to afford insurance thanks to this failed law. Republicans must offer the American people alternatives that lower costs and break the status quo that favors big government and big health care business over hardworking Americans. The Health Care Choice Act is one step in that direction.

“This bill is a true market-based reform that will make health insurance more personal and affordable, giving consumers the freedom to select plans that fit their needs, anywhere from Alaska to Texas to Vermont.”

Needless to say, this didn’t get any traction in the Senate, but it does provide insight into Cruz’s ideas for health care reform and his vision of the role of the federal government in these reforms.

When speaking about needed health care reforms, Cruz is adamant that the answers are in removing the federal government from health care as much as possible by first repealing “every single word of ObamaCare.”  He outlines three key minimalist approaches that overlap with some of Jindal’s ideas:  allow people to buy insurance across state lines, expand Health Savings Accounts (including tax incentives), de-link health insurance from employment.


Both candidates have the same goal in terms of repealing ObamaCare, and they share many of the same ideas and solutions.  A debate between the two on health care reform is unlikely to happen, but it would be interesting to see how each distinguishes himself from the other candidate.


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