Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed, Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace it. In fact, they’ve tried to repeal it 62 times, with the most recent attempt being Paul Ryan’s proposed replacement. There are two versions of this proposal floating around, but this is the full document.
The plan begins with an attack on the ACA and goes so far as to say the law cannot be salvaged.
‘Obamacare is making things worse by the day. It drives up premiums and deductible costs for individuals, families, and businesses. It forces people off the plans they like. It fuels waste, fraud, and abuse. And it cannot be fixed. Its knot of regulations, taxes, and mandates cannot be untangled. Obamacare must be fully repealed so we can start over and take a new approach.’
Observant readers might note that while Ryan is quick to dismiss the ACA as an unsalvageable mess, he is also rather willing to preserve the bits that he thinks are popular. For instance, Ryan promises that the Republican plan will protect those with preexisting conditions, allow people to stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until they’re 26, and prohibit sudden cancellation.
So aside from recycling some of the ACA’s biggest hits like a bad cover band, what else will Paul Ryan’s plan do? For starters, it contains the often popular Republican idea of tort reform. In short, this would limit how much compensation one could receive if a doctor makes a mistake and ends up hurting them or a family member during a procedure. Since doctors and other medical personnel have insurance for this sort of thing, tort reform would end up benefiting insurance companies more than the average person. You’ll notice that’s a theme with this new healthcare plan.
Another popular Republican proposal that has made its way into this plan is allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. This sounds like a good idea in theory, as it would give people more choices. But there is one major flaw that the Republicans haven’t addressed, which is the race to the bottom. Since each state has its own rules and regulations regarding health insurance, it’s very likely that insurance companies would simply set up shop in the state that had the least amount of regulation, resulting in less protection for consumers.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Republican healthcare plan without an attempt to attack Medicare. So let’s look at the latest Republican attack on one of the most popular programs in America. For starters, Ryan intends to raise the eligibility age to 67. Republicans also intend to phase out the current system and replace it with a “fully competitive market-based model—known as premium support.”
Let’s be crystal clear on something. Despite what Republicans would have you believe, the United States does not have the highest quality of healthcare in the world. According to a World Health Organization report released in 2000, the United States ranks 37 in healthcare. A more current ranking from the Commonwealth Fund ranks America dead last when compared to 10 other nations.
Looking at that list, you’ll find that the 10 countries that are ahead of the U.S. all have universal healthcare. So if Ryan and the Republicans really want to improve the U.S. healthcare system, then they should be fighting to expand Medicare to cover everyone instead of trying to replace it with a private system. However, that would require them to put the common good above corporate profits, which is something they seem rather unwilling to do.