Senate Democrats are issuing a new warning to Republicans plotting a quick repeal of Obamacare next year: Don’t count on us to help replace it.“It they break this, they own it,” said Sen. Patty Murray, who will be the third-ranking Senate Democrat in the new Congress. “They have failed to come up with any plausible way to provide care and health care insurance for so many people. If they take it away, they better tell us how to fix it because they broke it.”
Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of having no alternative to the ACA for health insurance reform, but Price introduced a bill in July 2009 that would have offered reform on free-market principles rather than a federal government takeover of the insurance markets.Called the “Empowering Patients First Act,” it included the following:Tax incentives for buying health insurance rather than a mandate and tax penalties for opting out.Federal block grants to states predicated in part on establishing high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions.Expansion of health-savings accounts (HSAs) for pre-tax medical expenses. Freeing up interstate insurance sales to allow for greater competition.If that sounds familiar, it’s because Price had a lot of influence on the latest proposal from House Republicans on an Obamacare replacement. Called “A Better Way,” House Speaker Paul Ryan published it this summer to give Republicans a platform on which to use the election as a referendum on the Obamacare. It includes the same concepts and goals of Price’s 2009 legislation, and Price worked closely with Ryan to keep the focus on free-market reforms mixed with tax credits and state jurisdiction.While a full repeal would have to originate in Congress, Price’s nomination promises quick action to roll back regulatory changes that come from the blank-check authority given to HHS by the ACA. The controversial contraception mandate will almost certainly be at the top of that list. Price has opposed that from the moment Kathleen Sebelius issued the regulation, specifically citing its infringement “with our fundamental right to religious freedom.”
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