Ford O'Connell to GOP: Campaign on Fixing Obamacare

Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 06:51 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Although the White House is celebrating Obamacare enrollment numbers, Republicans should tout their alternatives to the healthcare reform law, says GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.

"The message for Republicans needs to be put us back into power in Congress and we're going to fix the Obamacare mess, and the reason is very simple.

"While most Americans detest it, a sizeable majority don't want to see it repealed, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, and the reason is because there are two popular provisions, covering kids up to 26 and basically covering pre-existing conditions," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Wednesday.

"So, that is what Republicans have to work with, they basically have to say, hey, we're going to come up with a solution to fix this because repeal is not going to be a winning message for Republicans," he said.

O'Connell, a self-styled "political quarterback," has worked on several local, state and national campaigns, including the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He argues that the GOP has to work within the parameters of the healthcare law for now, and not just run against Obamacare.

"The fact still remains that we're in a legislatively untenable situation, and that is, we can't be seen as snatching back health insurance from the 1 to 2 million who were previously uninsured who now may or may not actually have health insurance.

"So, this is really the area where Republicans find themselves, they can't go and snatch that back, but what they can do is they can try to fix it," he explained.

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One possible fix: containing costs.

"One of the things that Obamacare doesn't do is keep the cost curve down, and the two things that Republicans should be internally talking about when fixing this: basically tort reform and essentially pushing insurance so that it can be sold across state lines.

"The key here is cost containment, and that’s a conservative idea. I'm not sure that is what conservative thinking is, but again, right now these are the parameters within which we work," O'Connell said.

Asked about the number of people without health insurance who are looking to Republicans for answers, O'Connell said, "We can't be the party of no; we have to be the party of solutions."

"Now, here's what I will say: there is no guarantee that Obamacare is actually going to cover those . . . who are currently uninsured, and frankly, Bobby Jindal's plan will actually do it faster than what the current CBO projections are with respect to Obamacare,."

He was referring to "The Freedom and Empowerment Plan, The Prescription for Conservative Consumer-Focused Health Reform," which Jindal unveiled Wednesday.

Similarly, O'Connell said the GOP needs to have a blueprint for fiscal policy such as the budget proposal released Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.

"You've got to look at what Paul Ryan's budget really is. It's a campaign document. He's trying to fire up the base while simultaneously mitigating the Democrats' knocking the budget down. It's one of these things that this has got to be seen as a campaign document, not an exact science and a model for exactly what we should be doing," he said.

"But it hits the top-level ideas, and the idea of balancing the budget and trying to simultaneously promote growth is a very conservative idea and something that the base could rally around."

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