Weekly Standard Takes Credit For Jeb Bush's Plan To Repeal Obamacare

An op-ed in The Weekly Standard praised Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a health care proposal based on a plan from an organization co-founded by neo-conservative Weekly Standard founder and editor Bill Kristol.

Weekly Standard Cites “Encouraging Trend” After Bush Adopts The Health Care Plan It Developed

Weekly Standard Touts Republican “Consensus” On Replacing Obamacare. On October 13, The Weekly Standard published an op-ed claiming credit for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's health care reform plan, which would “pave the way to [a] full repeal” of Obamacare. Author Jeffrey Anderson explained that the Bush plan mirrors a proposal put forward by the 2017 Project, which he and Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol ran, and which has also been adopted by several other prominent Republicans:

It has been clear for some time that Republicans need just two things in order to repeal Obamacare--a winning alternative and political willpower. The jury is still out on how much of the latter the party possesses. But when it comes to uniting around a well-conceived alternative that can pave the way to full repeal, the news is increasingly good. Jeb Bush's just-released Obamacare alternative is the latest example of this encouraging trend.

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Bush is the fourth major political figure to champion this model, which originated with the “Winning Alternative to Obamacare” (first released by the 2017 Project, which I ran and Bill Kristol chaired). Ed Gillespie, Tom Price, and Scott Walker all adopted the Winning Alternative's simple tax credits of $1,200 for those under 35 years of age, $2,100 for those between 35 and 50, $3,000 for those 50 and over, and $900 per child. Bush's alternative doesn't specify exact values, but it does call for tax credits that are “adjusted by age,” “refundable,” and given “regardless of income” --in other words, it follows the same model.

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It is good to see such a consensus forming--around a non-income-tested, tax-credit-based alternative, which would greatly appeal to middle-class Americans who get nothing from Obamacare but the tab. As that consensus hopefully continues to form, the other thing needed for repeal--willpower--will remain crucial. [The Weekly Standard, 10/13/15]

Weekly Standard Plan Reduces Benefits For Low-Income Americans, Creates Tax Breaks For High Earners

Oldest And Poorest Stand To Lose The Most. According to the 2017 Project's executive summary of its plan -- “A Winning Alternative to Obamacare” -- the proposal would reduce tax credits currently granted to low-income individuals and older working-age Americans under the Affordable Care Act, while creating new tax breaks for high-income individuals:

2017 Project

[2017 Project, A Winning Alternative to Obamacare, accessed 10/13/15]

Media Highlight Problems With Bush's Health Care Plan

The Hill: Bush Admits Plan “Would Disrupt Coverage” For Millions. According to an October 13 article in The Hill, Jeb Bush's health care proposal may be less expensive for the government than the Affordable Care Act, but the savings would come at the expense of the poor and “disrupt coverage” for millions currently receiving healthcare subsidies:

The GOP presidential candidate would provide tax credits to help people pay for coverage. But instead of the comprehensive coverage they can get from ObamaCare, Bush's plan would allow them to buy cheaper plans that offer protection in the event of “high-cost medical events.”

Bush, who criticized ObamaCare for driving up costs, is touting his proposals as a more cost-conscious and responsible way of providing healthcare. Critics are likely to argue it will also cut off benefits, particularly for the poor.

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Bush acknowledges his plan would disrupt coverage for people who currently have plans through ObamaCare. The Obama administration says about 17 million people have insurance either through the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces, its expansion of Medicaid or by staying on a parent's plan until age 26. [The Hill, 10/13/15]

Huffington Post: Bush Plan Only Protects Pre-Existing Conditions For The Continuously Insured. According to an October 13 article in the Huffington Post, Bush's health care proposal would not protect everyone with pre-existing conditions and would repeal more of the Affordable Care Act than it replaced:

Jeb Bush on Tuesday will introduce a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But “replace” may not be quite the right word.

The Bush plan calls for a familiar mix of conservative ideas on health care, according to campaign documents obtained by The Huffington Post. It would eliminate the coverage scheme of “Obamacare” -- the tax credits, regulations on insurance, and individual mandate that have led to a historic reduction in the number of uninsured Americans.

In its place, Bush would introduce a new kind of financial assistance for people buying insurance on their own -- specifically, tax credits pegged to age but not to income, and not designed to guarantee access to the same level of coverage as Obama's health care program does.

The Bush plan also would give control of Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income Americans, over to the states.

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One more key footnote to the Bush plan is its protection for people with pre-existing conditions, which is different from the guarantee in the Affordable Care Act. The Bush plan calls for guaranteeing access, but only for people with “continuous” coverage. That means people whose insurance has lapsed -- say, because they lost a job and couldn't afford premiums for a few months -- could be subject to denial because of their current medical problems. [The Huffington Post, 10/13/15]

AP: Parkinson's Sufferer Says “It Would Crush People Like Me.” According to an October 13 report by the Associated Press, Republican voters in New Hampshire are worried that insurance companies will “cherry pick” services at the expense of those with illnesses and pre-existing conditions. One GOP supporter living with Parkinson's disease praised the care he receives under Obamacare and declared that Bush's plan “would crush people like me” :

Donna Sytek, a former New Hampshire House speaker who is considering supporting Bush, said she doesn't understand how Bush's plan would work financially if people are able to cherry pick what services they want their coverage to include.

“I want to know more detail -- how do you make it work actuarially?” she said.

James Flathers, a long-time Republican voter who has Parkinson's disease, said the president's health care law was a financial savior when he had to switch jobs. Flathers said he is skeptical of Republican plans to repeal the law and wanted more details about how Bush's plan would work.

“I think it would crush people like me,” he said. [Associated Press, 10/13/15]

New York Times: Bush Plan Unlikely To “Protect As Many People As President Obama's Initiative.” According to an October 13 article in The New York Times, Bush's plan “would probably not protect as many people as President Obama's initiative,” may harm low income individuals, and closely resembles former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's 2012 health care proposal:

Jeb Bush on Tuesday offered a detailed proposal to replace much of the Affordable Care Act with a more conservative health care plan that could lower individual insurance costs but would probably not protect as many people as President Obama's initiative.

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Mr. Bush's plan would make good on Republicans' oft-stated pledge to repeal and replace Mr. Obama's signature domestic achievement, but it also points up the trade-offs that he and other Republican presidential candidates face. His reliance on low-cost catastrophic health plans could reduce premiums for some consumers, but could also leave them with fewer health benefits, and he would also loosen the Affordable Care Act's popular guarantee of coverage, regardless of a person's pre-existing medical conditions.

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Mitt Romney, the Republicans' 2012 presidential nominee, also proposed limiting the guaranteed coverage of pre-existing medical conditions to people who maintained consistent health insurance, arguing that would prevent people from forgoing insurance premiums until they got sick. [The New York Times, 10/13/15]