Senate GOP adopts Merrill Matthews' principles for plan to replace Obamacare

Republican Senators Richard Burr (NC), Tom Coburn (OK), and Orrin Hatch (UT) released their proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare yesterday, and it is right on target. Indeed, the plan, for which the senators personally credited and thanked the author, incorporates nine of the 10 reform points suggested by Merrill Matthews’ piece for Human Events published Monday.

As the three senators wrote in a Fox News op/ed describing their plan, ???We agree that the pre-ObamaCare status quo was unsustainable and unacceptable.  The problem is that the law failed to fix most of the problems in health care, and made many even worse.??? In fact, Obamacare doubled down on all of the current problems, only making the system worse???and a lot more expensive.

The senators allude to the primary difference between conservatives and liberals on health care reform: Liberals believe individuals cannot be trusted to make good decisions in the health care marketplace; conservatives think they can.

A few of Matthews’ principles, found here, include establishing tax fairness, expanding consumer-driven options, privatizing Medicare, and permitting cross-state health insurance purchases.

According to Matthews, real health care reform is about who you trust to make your health care decisions. Polls have repeatedly shown the public does not trust President Obama or his plan. The conservative solution is to empower individuals, not bureaucrats or health insurance companies. ???We trust the choices of individual patients and consumers, not paternalistic bureaucrats.???  To accomplish this, it is necessary to give individuals more control over their health care dollars.

The senators released the following press release, outlining their proposed plan:

WASHINGTON ??? Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) unveiled the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act – a legislative plan that repeals Obamacare and then replaces it with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that reduce health care costs and increase access to affordable, high-quality care.  In contrast with Obamacare and its government centered mandates and regulations, the Senators??? proposal empowers the American people to make the best health care choices for themselves and their families.

Following today???s release of the plan, the three Senators will work with their Senate colleagues and experts across the health care community to further refine and improve upon the proposal, with the goal of building consensus and introducing legislation.

???The American people have found out what is in Obamacare??? broken promises in the form of increased health care costs, costly mandates, and government bureaucracy.  They don???t like it and don???t want to keep it,??? said Burr.  ???Our nation???s health care system was unsustainable before Obamacare, and the President???s health care plan made things worse.  That???s why the Patient CARE proposal repeals Obamacare and focuses on targeted reforms that will lower costs and expand access to quality care. We can lower costs and expand access to quality coverage and care by empowering individuals and their families to make their own health care decisions, rather than empowering the government to make those decisions for them.???

???For millions of Americans, Obamacare itself has become a preexisting condition that has caused them to lose their insurance, their doctors and their choices. Congress has a responsibility to not only repeal this misguided law but replace it with a plan that will provide better care at a lower cost, and will help preserve programs like Medicaid instead of driving them closer to bankruptcy,??? said Dr. Coburn. ???It is unfortunate the Senate Majority Leader blocked a vote on an alternative in 2009.  But it???s critical we chart another path forward.  Our health care system wasn???t working well before Obamacare and it is worse after Obamacare.  Americans deserve a real alternative, and a way out.   I???m pleased to take this important step with my colleagues.???

???Forcing too many Americans out of the insurance they have, away from the doctor they trust and, for some, out of the job they need, Obamacare is a disaster.  With our plan, we???ve shown once again that by empowering Americans ??? not Washington ??? with the right tools and information, they will make the best informed health care decisions for themselves,??? said Hatch. ???After first repealing the President???s health law, we take aim at the chief concerns of the American people – greater economic security by driving down costs and expanding access to high-quality care through increased insurance market competition and reforms.  What we???ve put forward is sustainable and achievable ??? and without the tax hikes, mandates, and budget-busting spending that have made Obamacare so unpopular with the American people.??? 

The Patient CARE Act provides a legislative roadmap to fully repeal the President???s health care law, known as Obamacare, and replace the law with common-sense measures that would:

§  Establish sustainable, patient-centered reforms:
o   Adopt common-sense consumer protections;
o   Create a new protection to help Americans with pre-existing conditions;
o   Empower small business and individuals with purchasing power;
o   Empower states with more tools to help provide coverage while reducing costs; and
o   Expand and strengthen consumer directed health care.
§  Modernize Medicaid to provide better coverage and care to patients:
o   Transition to capped allotment to provide states with predictable funding and flexibility; and
o   Reauthorize Health Opportunity Accounts to empower Medicaid patients.
§  Reduce unnecessary defensive medicine practices and rein in frivolous lawsuits:
o   Medical Malpractice reforms.
§  Increase health care price transparency to empower consumers and patients:
o   Requiring basic health care transparency to inform and empower patients.
§  Reduce distortions in the tax code that drive up health care costs:
o   Capping the exclusion of an employee???s employer-provided health coverage.

A detailed summary of the proposal can be found here.

A side-by-side comparison to Obamacare can be found here.

Frequently asked questions on the proposal can be found here.

Illustrative examples of how patients ???who are harmed by Obamacare??? are helped under the proposal can be found here.