House Republicans Unveil Their Rx for Obamacare

The Senate then would have to pass its own version of health care reform, and any differences between the two worked out in conference.

Proposal has both supporters and detractors

Health policy analysts, interested parties and other stakeholders offered widely differing opinions of the draft proposal. Those who supported the expansion of private health insurance and Medicaid under Obamacare were generally critical of the GOP blueprint. Opponents of Obamacare, meanwhile, reacted favorably to the plan.

Atlanta otolaryngologist Dr. Elaina George said “the problem with Obamacare was it stripped away patient choice” and offered no price transparency.

“You had no idea what the costs were, and you were stuck with purchasing a product that you couldn’t afford,” she said.

George is author of the book Big Medicine: The Cost of Corporate Control And How Doctors and Patients Working Together Can Rebuild A Better System.

While she said she’s happy to see that the GOP plan eliminates the individual mandate, what’s unclear is whether the proposal provides some clarity on health care prices.

“People need to understand what the true costs of health care are,” George said.

Ron Pollack, executive director of the health advocacy group Families USA, offered a sharp rebuke to the Republican proposal.

“The GOP health care proposal would be laughable if its consequences weren’t so devastating,” he said.

Although the House bill provides no indication of the number of Americans who would be covered by insurance, or its cost, Pollack’s read is that “millions” would be stripped of coverage. He said the measure would “drive up consumer costs.”

Leighton Ku, professor of health policy and management at George Washington University, said a fair evaluation of the bill requires input from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO is charged with providing estimates of the legislation’s cost and coverage.

“My quick assessment is that the bill will make insurance less accessible for millions of Americans, particularly working-class Americans,” Ku said.

John Auerbach, president Trust for America’s Health, said the GOP proposal would eliminate an Obamacare provision that established a national fund for prevention and public health. That cut would erase 12 percent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget, including $625 million annually for state and local public health efforts to prevent diabetes, heart disease and cancer, he said.

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