Among the latest proposals are two companion bills filed in the Senate and the House that have attracted strong support from some Washington think tanks, including FreedomWorks, an organization closely aligned to the Tea Party movement.
The organization sent a letter to the offices of all senators and representatives urging them to back bills introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), both named the ObamaCare Replacement Act.
“It’s time for Congress to get serious about repealing ObamaCare – every word of it – and replacing it with patient-centered, free-market solutions,” Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Others are not backing any of the bills introduced or circulating on Capitol Hill. That is the position taken by the Heritage Foundation. The conservative think tank is not going to publicly align itself with one plan or another, said Ed Haislmaier, a senior fellow and health policy expert with the foundation.
“We see replacing Obamacare more as a process than an event,” Haislmaier told Patient Daily. “We believe in repealing those provisions that can be done soon and setting effective dates. But the replace is really more of a process.”
He added, “This is all about sequencing. It could be one bill or several bills. It is a legislative process, because there is only so much that can be done with budget reconciliation.”
Using budget reconciliation is a way of making changes without needing 60 votes in the Senate. Haislmaier concedes that, at some points, Democrats will need to vote for bills to repeal and replace key elements of Obamacare.
The Heritage Foundation’s broad position is that Obamacare is “a proven policy failure.” Its experts conclude it should be repealed completely.
In a position paper, the foundation wrote, “Congress must focus on the fundamentals: equalizing the tax treatment of health insurance; restoring common sense regulation of health insurance; and addressing the serious need for reform in Medicare and Medicaid by adopting policies that give individuals control over their health care.”
The three arms of its policy position are reforming the tax treatment of health insurance so that individuals are treated the same by the government, regardless of where they buy health coverage, and sending regulation back to the states.
Haislmaier said the foundation also wants to “encourage people to think about the long term,” to question the fundamentals of the delivery of health care, ask why the U.S. health system is among the most expensive in the world, and consider how can it be changed.
FreedomWorks is unabashedly throwing its support behind the two companion bills introduced in the Senate and the House.
“The ObamaCare Replacement Act gives power back to patients and doctors by immediately eliminating mandates and regulations put in place by ObamaCare,” Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks president and chief executive, said in a statement. “By applying free market principles to the health insurance industry and eliminating the mandates and regulations that have caused premiums to skyrocket, Americans will again have the ability to purchase affordable health insurance coverage.”
Brandon noted that the bill would allow American families to pay for health insurance with health savings accounts (HSAs).
“Unlike ObamaCare, which ravaged HSAs, this bill incentivizes savings with a $5,000 per taxpayer credit and allows infinite annual contributions,” Brandon said. “Allowing individuals who do not purchase health insurance through an employer to deduct the taxes from their income will create an equal playing field and provide more options for Americans seeking affordable insurance.”
It also introduces Association Health Plans to negotiate lower prices. This aspect of the bill will positively impact small business, organizations and people with pre-existing conditions. Americans reserve the right to stand together nationwide to demand lower prices, according to Brandon.
“The success of health care reform depends on the market, which the American people should influence rather than the government,” he said. "Furthermore, purchasing power belongs in the hands of the American people, not in the hands of bureaucrats."