Republican Ideas for Health Care Reform

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal pushes a Republican plan for health care reform, but the reviews are mixed

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In Monday's Washington Post, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal took both Democrats and Republicans to task: the former for not realizing their "plans for a government takeover are passé," the latter for failing "to join the battle of ideas." Arguing that the last thing people want is another 1,000 page doorstopper of a plan, Jindal offers 10 ideas to fix health-care and, he hopes, jump-start Republican leadership on the issue:

  1. "Voluntary purchasing pools"
  2. "Portability"
  3. "Lawsuit reform"
  4. "Require coverage of preexisting conditions"
  5. "Transparency and payment reform"
  6. "Electronic medical records"
  7. "Tax-free health savings accounts"
  8. "Reward healthy lifestyles"
  9. "Cover young adults"
  10. "Refundable tax credits"

For a single op-ed, this piece has generated impressive debate. Some take issue with Jindal's declaration that Democratic efforts are dead, while others criticize his "one-upsmanship" with regard to other Republican plans. Here is a selection of notable responses:

  • Actually, Democrats Far from 'Passé'  The Democratic plan may yet fail, the Atlantic's Chris Good acknowledged, but "Americans think Obama has better ideas on health care than Republicans in Congress." Jindal's not quite right in implying that there's no support for Democratic health care reform.
  • Correcting Jindal's Numbers  "[I]f policymakers should," as Jindal argues, "be expected to listen to the polls and the voters," writes the liberal Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, "the public option would be the single most popular health care reform measure in Washington right now."
  • Ignores Existing Republican Proposals  "I imagine," begins the National Review's Ramesh Ponnoru," congressional Republicans such as Paul Ryan, John Shadegg, Tom Coburn, and Jim DeMint will be annoyed that in the course of urging Republicans to offer health-care alternatives Jindal doesn't mention any of their existing bills." Calling Jindal's ideas "half-baked," he points out that "requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions," as Jindal suggests, "is either meaningless or unworkable unless Jindal is willing to support forcing people to buy insurance."

  • Irritatingly Presented, But Decent Ideas  Commentary magazine's Jennifer Rubin isn't wild about Jindal's "No one else has ideas but me!" approach, but "is struck by how simple and inexpensive many of these ideas would be to implement." Unfortunately, she writes, "for now, Democrats remain convinced that there’s one grand health-care bill to be passed. So nothing much gets done."
  • Conservative Plan Needed--But This Isn't It  In Politico's Arena, David Orentlicher, co-director of the Center for Law and Health at Indiana University, applauded Jindal's general idea, but didn't like his specific suggestions:
his list looks much more like a hodge-podge of ideas than a coherent plan. His proposal for voluntary purchasing pools suggests he wants to build on our current employer-based system of health care coverage, but his proposal for portability of insurance suggests he wants to break the link between employment and coverage. Some proposals, like health-savings accounts, have not lived up to expectations and need to be jettisoned.
  • Is This a Strategic Move?  Chris Frates at Politico zeroed in on a single sentence: "The people do not want Republicans to offer their own thousand-page plan to overhaul health care, and that is not what the nation needs." Frates suggested that "the Louisiana governor is trying to neutralize the Democratic critique that the GOP never delivered on its promise to release its own legislative reform alternative."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.