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Claims by Obamacare backers about lack of GOP alternative are unfounded

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: July 31, 2012

SUPPORTERS of President Barack Obama's health care law claim conservatives offer no alternative other than a return to an untenable status quo.

In reality, Republicans have produced bold reform proposals that would allow officials to both repeal and replace Obamacare.

Oklahoma's own U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, introduced the Patients' Choice Act in 2009 (along with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and others.)

Coburn's plan would grant individuals the same tax advantages employers get for purchasing health insurance. That would greatly benefit Oklahoma's countless self-employed farmers, ranchers and other entrepreneurs, as well as uninsured workers.

Coburn's bill also gives every American a $2,290 tax credit (or $5,710 per family) to buy health insurance. The tax credit would cover the employee's share of a policy while the employer continues to cover the rest, as occurs currently. Any remaining tax credit money could be used for a health savings account covering routine medical expenses.

The legislation reforms Medicaid by giving low-income families an additional $5,000 on top of their tax credit. That would provide a family $10,710 to buy insurance coverage outside of Medicaid. Coburn notes that 40 percent of doctors and hospitals nationally refuse to accept Medicaid patients due to low payments. His plan would therefore improve low-income families' access to health care.

On the other hand, Obamacare doesn't address Medicaid's problems; it merely supersizes the program.

Coburn's bill calls for state insurance exchanges giving citizens access to a wide range of insurance products with guaranteed coverage regardless of age or pre-existing conditions. Unlike Obamacare, Coburn's plan isn't financed by cutting Medicare funding, and it doesn't require new spending or new taxes. One independent estimate predicted Coburn's bill could save $70 billion and provide coverage to a majority of uninsured Americans.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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