Diary

Repeal and Replace - an Idea

A while back, I posted a long-winded diary titled  Repeal and Replace offering an alternative to ObamaCare. Here is a condensed version of my idea:

 

The Universal Healthcare Commission (UHC) – create an independent, non-political commission consisting of businessmen, medical professionals, health insurance executives, and consumer advocates. Elected politicians are banned. The power and authority of the UHC will be very limited.

Write UHC Health Insurance Policies – The UHC will write five or six insurance policies (I will call UHC Plan A through UHC Plan E) that will accommodate the entire range of consumers from the young and healthy to the older citizens more prone to health issues. UHC Plan S will be written as a Medicare Supplemental. Each plan will lay out in clear, easy-to-understand language what is covered, what is not, co-pay amounts, maximum out-of-pocket expenses, and all other relevant details related to limits of coverage and costs to the consumer. The policies will contain no fine print.

The Essence of the Plan – Health insurance companies will be permitted (but not required) to offer UHC-sanctioned plans (unmodified) to the general public subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • Insurers may set their own price of premiums for each UHC plan, but that price must be the same for all customers.
  • Insurers may not deny anybody a UHC policy for any reason including pre-existing health issues or prior health history.
  • Insurers may not drop coverage on any UHC customer for any reason (including lifetime limits) so long as premium payments are current.
  • Health insurers will be permitted to sell their UHC policies across state lines unrestricted (but not non-UHC policies).
  • Consumers who elect to purchase UHC-sanctioned insurance policies will be required to limit medical malpractice compensation awards to actual costs plus $250,000.
  • Advertised UHC premium prices for all insurers will remain in effect from January 1st to December 31st of each calendar year. Premium increases (or decreases) must be submitted to the UHC for posting on their public website – and must be submitted no later than September 30 to both the UHC and current policy holders (in writing) for changes that take effect January 1.

Discussion – This proposal takes us back to free-market principles where competition – not Government – rules the marketplace.

  My idea is modeled after the successful FDIC program in the sense that participation by health insurers is purely voluntary. No Government mandates imposed on either the insurer or the insured.

Competition: UHC Plan C offered by United Healthcare is unequivocally identical in every respect (right down to the punctuation) as Plan C sold by Blue Cross – the only difference being their cost of premiums to the consumer. Genuine comparative price shopping by consumers is now possible. Lifting interstate restrictions placed upon insurers will further promote competition and drive insurance premiums down.

Medical malpractice (tort) reform is accomplished voluntarily without Congress. Doctors and hospitals may (voluntarily) elect to offer discounts to UHC policy holders because it eliminates the threat of multi-million-dollar malpractice damage awards, and would lessen the costly practice of “defensive medicine” known to exist today.

The only role of Congress to implement this plan would be to establish the Universal Healthcare Commission and approve the plan concept. Congress will have no authority or power to modify UHC policies or impose Government mandates.

The most popular aspect of ObamaCare is the provision that prohibits denial of coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. This plan accomplishes that without Government mandates – it’s purely voluntary.

 The ongoing role of the Commission will be one of educating the public, complaint resolution, and enforcement.  Their website will post current premium rates for all insurers offering UHC plans, address consumer rights, and provide an easy-to-use mechanism to file consumer complaints directly with the UHC.

It won’t take 2600 pages to write the legislation for this plan.

 

Not Addressed in This Proposal – ObamaCare proponents tout “30 million Americans will now have access to healthcare.” Whether we Conservatives like it or not, Democrats have convinced Americans that the Government has a duty to provide “free” healthcare to those who cannot afford to buy it. This will be a difficult challenge that I would suggest be addressed in Phase II of a Comprehensive healthcare reform effort so as to not bog down implementation of Phase I outlined here.

 

Conclusion – Simply repealing ObamaCare is not enough.  The absence of a replacement plan by the Republicans gives ammunition to those who paint us as the “party of no” and perpetuates the public’s perception of “politics as usual” in Washington.  To simply say we will replace it with “common sense solutions” is lame and irresponsible of those on the Right who want to claim the title of “the party of ideas.”