House Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a $700 billion healthcare plan that would offer tax credits to help people buy insurance, yet unlike Democratic proposals, wouldn’t require either individuals or employers to get coverage.
Some of the ideas in the plan appeal to moderate Democrats, but with Republicans out of power, there’s little likelihood their proposal will be enacted. Nonetheless, it will give GOP lawmakers under fire for their opposition to President Barack Obama’s plan something positive to point to when they go home for the congressional August break.
“We are introducing this bill because we support health care reform, but in way that empowers patients,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the House Republican Study Committee. “While the president continues to insist there is appetite for the status quo in Congress, it’s not coming from Republicans.”
The GOP plan was drafted by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a physician. It avoids expanding the federal role in overseeing the health insurance industry. Unlike Democratic proposals, it would not set up new federally regulated purchasing pools for individuals and small businesses. Instead, it would allow individuals to use the Internet to purchase lower-cost coverage available anywhere in the country. That idea won’t please insurance commissioners from states with strong consumer protections, who have argued it will set off a “race to the bottom” that undermines coverage for those in frail health.