How Tom Price Can Waive Obamacare Goodbye

My old boss, doctor and former U.S. Senator (he preferred those titles in that order) Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Paul Howard of the Manhattan Institute have a fantastic op-ed in USA Today about how the Trump Administration can take a big step toward fixing the Obamacare mess they inherited.

Essentially, Tom Price, in his anticipated role as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, can use “state innovation waivers” written into the Affordable Care Act to give states the freedom to innovate. Coburn and Howard say this would help states escape “many of the law’s most expensive and onerous regulations.” They continue:

The Trump administration can immediately signal its commitment to promoting market competition and empowering patients and consumers by offering such waivers. Along with new reforms to promote transparency on pricing and quality, the administration and Congress can facilitate a health care revolution from the ground up …

With states encouraged to pursue essentially 50 different health-care innovation zones within a predictable budget framework, Congress and the Trump administration would have a stable platform for debating and passing additional reforms to empower patients and consumers, one bill at a time.

The Republican case for reform is ironclad. Even when fully implemented, Obamacare will leave 25 to 30 million Americans uninsured. Insurance premiums are spiraling out of control, and entitlement spending on health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid remains on course to sink state and federal budgets.

Coburn and Howard are echoing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) argument that Obamacare is collapsing and that policymakers have a moral obligation to act with haste. They’re right.

Congress and the Trump administration also have to make this healthcare battle about people, not process. The public is souring on the legalistic “repeal and replace” mantra. In the real world, Congress and the administration are facing a rescue and recovery operation. Yet, at the same time, Congress and the administration need to be advancing a solution.

The truth is the Obamacare fix will be a process more than a moment. Asking Price to waive Obamacare’s onerous regulations is a great place to start.

John Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @johnhart333.