House GOP Chairmen Propose “Off-Ramp” from Obamacare

Three top Republican lawmakers charged with drafting an alternative to Obamacare have penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal laying out their proposal should the law be undone in the King v. Burwell case currently before the Supreme Court. A ruling from the high court is expected in June.

Reps. John Kline, Paul Ryan and Fred Upton, chairmen, respectively, of the House committees on Education and Workforce, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce write:

What we will propose is an off-ramp out of ObamaCare toward patient-centered health care. It has two parts: First, make insurance more affordable by ending Washington mandates and giving choice back to states, individuals and families. And second, support Americans in purchasing the coverage of their choosing.

Here’s how it would work:

First, make coverage more affordable. Any state that uses our off-ramp would be able to opt out of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates. These coverage requirements are driving up costs, so eliminating them would empower individuals and families to choose from a wider range of plans that fit their personal needs and budgets. Our proposal will also allow participating states to opt out of ObamaCare’s burdensome individual and employer mandates, allowing Americans to purchase the coverage they want. …

At the same time, we would set up other safeguards for patients. We would allow parents to keep children on their plan until age 26. We would prohibit insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits. We would protect people with existing conditions. And we would guarantee renewability for people already enrolled in a plan.

Second, help people buy coverage. Right now, those who get insurance through their employer get a lot of help from the tax code, while some people who buy insurance on their own, including potentially the millions of Americans the IRS put at risk, get no help at all. So we would offer those in the affected states a tax credit to buy insurance.

The credit would be “advanceable”—that is, you would get it when you needed it; you wouldn’t have to wait for tax season. It also would be “refundable”—that is, you would get the full amount no matter the size of your tax bill. And would adjust the size of the credit for age; the elderly, who face higher coverage costs, would get more support.

For more on Ryan, Kline, and Upton’s plan, go to the Wall Street Journal.