The Magazine

What’s the Alternative?

Apr 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 29 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON and WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Nor is it enough for Republicans to advance an alternative that (to quote the poll question) “aims to lower health costs” but otherwise doesn’t do much of anything to “help people get insurance.” In other words, a winning conservative alternative is unlikely to be one that relies on a tax deduction that offers very little to the near-poor who are almost the sole beneficiaries of Obama-care’s taxpayer-funded subsidies—and offers even less to those whom Obama-care has now added to the Medicaid rolls. Such an alternative would do little to help—it might actually make more difficult—the repeal of Obamacare.

The 2017 Project has advanced an alternative that is designed to bring about full repeal. It would end the unfairness in the tax code by offering a refundable tax credit for buying health insurance in the individual market—thereby providing a tax break that’s much like the one available to everyone in the employer-based market. It would solve the problem of expensive preexisting conditions by funding state-run high-risk pools and including a few commonsense regulations that would allow those, for example, who move from the employer market to the individual market to do so without getting charged more for a condition that was previously covered. It would save taxpayers money and make it possible for any American who wants to buy health insurance to do so. It would lower health costs by limiting the role of middlemen (whether insurers or the government) and by letting people shop for value. It would let Americans keep their plans if they like them, and in general respect their liberty. And it would repeal every last letter of Obamacare.

Polling shows Americans reject Obamacare. It shows they would prefer a conservative alternative to Obama-care. That preference should cause conservatives to take heart. Now they just need to take action.

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