The BOLD Republican Plan for Health Care


January 29, 2014
**To receive this commentary directly to your email, click the "subscribe to the Health Freedom eNews" button above.


I’m not going to talk about Obama’s SOTU… except to say that I feel like I did the last time he had to get up and try to sell Obamacare to the nation: he doesn’t want to do it; he feels it’s beneath him; it’s four years after Obamacare and he’s perturbed that he still has to be marketing the law in a speech. So his comments lack passion.

He wants so much to be beyond Obamacare, but just can’t get there. The young aren’t buying it. The enrollment numbers are filled with people who were previously enrolled --in policies cancelled by Obamacare. The website is a fraught with glitches and slowdowns and data insecurity. In short, he’s not happy about the long list of realities swirling around his “signature” act.

Instead, I’m going to talk about one bold GOP health care plan. Here is a plan that can evoke passion.

For comparison let’s first talk about the recent GOP plan. The ‘repeal and replace’ plan unveiled on Monday has been called “pragmatic and realistic” by GOP Senate aids. There’s little to be excited about. I hoped I would like it, but the “replace” part of the plan authored by Republican Senators Hatch, Coburn, and Burr seems more like a re-hash of tired old ideas that won’t register high on anyone’s enthusiasm meter. 

Furthermore, their plan, called the “Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act” (Patient CARE Act), keeps the federal government in power. The 8-page overview of the Patient CARE Act claims it will “return the power of regulating health insurance to the states,” but just like or similar to Obamacare, the CARE Act:

  • Prohibits lifetime limits by insurers.

  • Requires guaranteed renewability.

  • Requires insurers to take people with pre-existing conditions as long as they’ve been “continuously covered” for 18 months with at least catastrophic coverage by another insurer.

  • Sets a national “open enrollment” period for the uninsured.

  • Requires auto-enrollment by states of people who fail to choose a health plan within a certain time frame.

This puts the federal government where the federal government does not belong. Yes, it starts to deal with the problem of federal tax deductions being only available to those with employer-sponsored coverage, but the Patient CARE Act keeps the federal government in charge of health insurance even after it repeals Obamacare.

Not so with the OPTION Act.

The OPTION Act is a bold health care plan. Authored Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA), the “Offering Patients True Individualized Options Now Act of 2013” – H.R. 2900 – is an exciting 77-page proposal to repeal Obamacare and change the entire landscape of American health care.

It would reintroduce freedom.

The OPTION Act eliminates Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program --- and the entire Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Yes. All gone. In its place is private coverage and provisions to encourage and expand private charity. As Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, says:

“No other bill takes as bold of steps as H.R. 2900 does to begin rolling back the many decades of failed policies that have increasingly subjugated patient care to the interest of third parties and thwarted free market forces from providing a wealth of low cost, high-quality medical care.”

Dr. Broun’s plan shifts power from Washington D.C. to American patients and doctors. The OPTION ACT puts health care dollars in people’s hands, gets federal bureaucrats out of medical decisions, greatly diminishes the power of Congress in health care and makes charity, flexibility, and federal grants for indigent care the centerpiece of his bill. In short, the OPTION Act:

  • Repeals Obamacare

  • Enacts HSA and Tax Treatment Improvements

    • Repeals the mandate that Health Savings Account are only available to those who have a health insurance policy.

    • Increases the amount that can be contributed to the HSA from $3,250 for individuals to $10,000, and from $5,500 for individuals to $20,000.

    • Allows Medicare enrollees to have HSAs if enrolled before Medicare-eligible.

    • Allows HSA dollars to be rolled over into a Medicare Advantage MSA.

    • Prohibits tax on amounts not used for medical care.

    • Eliminates the “10% of income” floor on tax deductions for medical expenses, allowing all expenses to be deducted.

    • Allows cost of all medications to be deducted, not just prescribed medication.

    • Allows HSA accounts to be used to pay for medications and drugs that are not prescribed, such as over-the-counter medications.

    • Repeals the 18 month limit on COBRA coverage.

  • Restores Charity

    • Tax credits for physicians that provide “medical care on a volunteer or pro bono basis.”

    • Tax credits for charity care to the indigent.

    • Allows charitable distributions from the HSA without being taxed.

  • Ends Medicare as We Know It

    • Replaces Medicare entitlement with a premium assistance program.

    • Premium assistance provided to purchase insurance in individual market.

    • People who refuse premium assistance not entitled to Medicare.

    • No more Medicare Part B or D

    • Repeal/Phase out of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with remaining responsibilities transferred to Department of the Treasury.

  • Makes Common Sense Emergency Room (EMTALA) Reforms

    • Triage  by “emergency screener” permitted so that only those with actual emergency medical conditions are treated even if they have no means to pay.

  • Allows Insurers in One State to Sell in Another State

  • Repeals Medicaid and CHIP

  • Provides Federal Block Grants to States for Indigent Care

    • Quarterly federal grants to the State.

    • No more than 30% allowed to be used for other welfare programs.

    • No funding for abortion.

    • Conscience protections for physicians, pharmacists, other helath care professionals, hospitals, HMOs, insurers or any other health care facility, organization or plan.

    • No funding for illegal aliens.

    • No entitlements to the funds.

    • Audits and annual reporting requirements.

Bold is exactly what American patients and doctors need. Bold is what health freedom in America needs. The OPTION ACT is bold. Although it retains a federal element, it is a huge step back to state’s rights and individual control.

Contact Congressman Broun’s office and let him know what you think: (202) 225-4101 (WashingtonD.C.) or (706) 549-9588 (Athens, GA).

Obamacare is not our future. Obamacare will be our past.

Boldly standing with you for freedom,

Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder