Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is setting the record straight on the GOP's answer to the Affordable Care Act: “Republicans do have better plans than Obamacare — several of them.”
Cassidy, told me he felt it was time “someone stood up to [White House press secretary] Josh Earnest and his claims.” Cassidy was referring to Earnest’s recent reply to reporters at the White House that congressional Republicans who intend to repeal Obama's signature healthcare plan have no alternative to put forward.
When Newsmax noted on Jan. 6 that Cassidy had offered the Patient Freedom Act in 2015 as Obamacare was being challenged before the Supreme Court, Earnest noted that there is no plan Republican leaders are offering as an alternative now.
“If Republicans had a plan that they had confidence in, that they believed measured up to the Affordable Care Act that they believed would garner sufficient political support among Republicans on Capitol Hill, then why wouldn’t they put it forward?” Earnest said.
Cassidy, himself a physician, recalled that when he offered his market-based Patient Freedom Act in 2015, the measure had 12 co-sponsors and “they included [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and [Majority Whip] John Cornyn. So you could say it had leadership backing.”
Cassidy said on Tuesday he will offer the Patient Freedom Act again. This time, said Cassidy, “it doesn’t have leadership’s backing but it has six co-sponsors so far.”
He also noted that there were “so far at least three other plans that have been offered.” Among other plans cited by Cassidy include the Upton-Burr-Hatch plan, the Empowering Patients Act (offered by Georgia Rep. and Secretary of Health and Human Services-designate Tom Price), and the Cassidy-Sessions bill (“which is a House version of our Senate bill with some variations”).
All plans, the Louisianan explained, have several similar principles on which they are based. Among those refundable tax credits, going directly to patients for them to buy insurance of their choice; state legislatures making decisions over health insurance in individual states rather than Congress; automatic enrollment in health coverage until one decides to choose another option.
As an example of the last point, Cassidy said that under his and other alternative health plans, “you can stay on your parents’ plan until you are 26. But you also have the option to get off and start building a Health Savings Account.”
The overall vision of his plan and those of other Republicans, Cassidy explained, “is to take the ‘passive patient,’ who has physician and health care plan chosen for him under Obamacare, to an ‘activated patient,’ who is actively engaged in his choice of a health care plan and will be able to choose wisely because of price transparency.”
“So the left criticized us for having ‘no plan’ and now they criticize us for having several plans and not presenting one,” he said, “Right now, I can say that the weight of the [Senate Republican] Conference is settling and about to coalesce. Repeal is advancing, along with replacing.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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