By Max Friedman
The GOP field has narrowed, leaving us with five candidates for the Super Tuesday primaries. With less in the race, it gives a real opportunity to hone in on what the remaining Republicans have said about health care.
- Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race, is the most idiosyncratic on this issue. While he does not have a health care issue page on his website, he has made some interesting comments.
The Hill provides a look at what “Trumpcare” would look like. He spoke in last week’s Republican debate about allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines, supposedly to stimulate competition.
He also promoted health savings accounts, and that he would scrap the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to have health insurance, while keeping the requirement that insurance carriers cover patients’ preexisting conditions. He had previously been in favor of the mandate, and even a single-payer health care model, as late as last summer.
Senator Marco Rubio confronted Trump at last week’s debate about his views.
- Florida Senator Marco Rubio does have a health care issues page on his campaign site. He offers standard conservative policy points including “repeal and replace” the ACA, while, “putting protections in place to ensure those with preexisting health conditions can get access to affordable coverage.”
Vox explains Rubio’s plan. One of Rubio’s main points is that he ended the risk corridor program for health insurers in the exchanges. This was a stabilization plan to insure carriers against the risk of taking on high-cost patients in the exchanges.
Rubio inserted a provision in a budget deal late last year to prohibit the federal government from funding this program. While he claims that this saved taxpayers $2.5 billion, experts say that the government is still liable for these payments to insurers, and there are now lawsuits surfacing to claim these funds.
- Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been a big opponent of the ACA and led a losing fight against it in 2013, leading to a two week shutdown of the federal government.
He does not have a health care issue page, but he has laid out some ideas centered on repeal and replace, largely returning to the pre-ACA status quo, except with possibly less protections for ordinary people. He does not say how he would help people with pre-existing conditions, and he was confronted by an Iowa voter about what he would do. Modern Healthcare has taken a look at Cruz’s plan.
- Ohio Governor John Kasich has dealt with health care reform at the state level, and he has the most detailed plan online.
He is one of a few Republican governors who accepted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion program, despite opposition from others within his party. In addition to many of the ideas put forward by the candidates listed above, he has spoken about a transition value-based payment, which he has started to implement in Ohio. As Forbes points out, many of these provisions are already in the ACA.
- Former surgeon Ben Carson has been in the health care field for his entire career. His website features “Health Empowerment Accounts,” which would give each person $2,000 per year to pay for out-of-pocket and insurance premium costs.
He would shift Medicaid recipients into these plans, and he wants to gradually raise the age of Medicare eligibility to 70. People would be able to transfer funds to other family members or friends which “makes every family their own insurance company.” The New York Times took a look at Carson’s plan.
As the campaign continues and we enter into the general election campaign, the debate will continue on how to move forward. It will be interesting to hear what the candidates have to say as scrutiny is focused on their proposals.