WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn and two other Republicans proposed Monday that the Affordable Care Act be repealed and replaced with an approach that uses tax incentives to encourage people to buy health insurance, rather than mandating coverage.
The blueprint for health insurance reform is similar to a plan Coburn, R-Muskogee, offered in 2009, when President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders pushed through the legislation that eventually became law.
Though Obama has said he would be open to refinements of Obamacare, he wouldn't sign legislation that scraps the law, just as much of it is going into effect; moreover, the Democratic leadership of the Senate likely won't allow a debate on the latest Republican proposal.
But Coburn and Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said their proposal provides a road map for replacing Obamacare with “common-sense measures.”
There would no longer be a mandate on uninsured individuals to purchase coverage or on businesses to provide it. Instead, tax credits based on age and income would be offered to small business employees to purchase coverage.
To keep those tax credits from adding to the deficit, the proposal would require that workers who receive coverage from their employers pay taxes on part of the value of the benefits.
States would be given more power to design their own Medicaid programs, and people eligible for Medicaid could opt instead to take the tax credits and buy their own policies.
The proposal would reinstate some of the more popular elements of Obamacare: Insurance companies could not put lifetime caps on benefits; dependent coverage would be required for those younger than age 26; and people with pre-existing conditions couldn't be kicked out of their plans.
“For millions of Americans, Obamacare itself has become a pre-existing condition that has caused them to lose their insurance, their doctors and their choices,” Coburn said Monday.
“Congress has a responsibility to not only repeal this misguided law but replace it with a plan that will provide better care at a lower cost, and will help preserve programs like Medicaid instead of driving them closer to bankruptcy.”
The proposal also would require more transparency from the insurance and medical industries regarding the costs of procedures.