Replacing ObamaCare: Republican Alternative Expands HSA Access

RSC ObamaCare Alternative

This is the second in a multi-part series exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

As we reach the climax of the CR stalemate centered around ObamaCare, the debate will eventually have to shift away from the endless evils of government-driven health care and toward the redeeming power of free-market forces.  Fortunately, the Republican Study Committee recently introduced a comprehensive health care proposal titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA).  The bill, H.R. 3121, both repeals ObamaCare and offers the best set of proposals to date toward establishing a consumer-driven health care narrative for replacing ObamaCare.

Last week I addressed AHCRA’s first core principle, the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance (SDHI), which would unchain the tax advantages for purchasing health insurance from employer-sponsored coverage.  This post focuses on the benefits of enhancing the health savings account (HSA) to unleash the power of the market in combating the skyrocketing costs of care.

HSA Provides Triple-Tax Advantage

“It’s the law!” is not actually an adequate defense of a law

The moment the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate to purchase health insurance under Obamacare, the primary defense of the law became “It’s the law!” Since talk began of a budget impasse over defunding this particular law, that refrain has become ubiquitous. There’s just one problem: It’s a tautology that doesn’t actually make an argument.

Every law began as a bill that was “passed by Congress, signed by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court.” Laws, once written into code, do not become inviolably permanent. Even such duly-enacted laws can be repealed or defunded by Congress (with the President’s permission or by overriding his veto). Democrats in 2007 tried to defund the Iraq war, even though it was legally authorized by Congress, i.e. “the law”.

Surprisingly (except not at all), Democrats aren’t consistent sticklers for maintaining the status quo of the law in all cases. I will list a few examples, though it should be self-evident that the “progressive” party would be generally in favor of changing the law over time.

Don’t Settle for One-Year Individual Mandate Delay

Let’s get one thing straight: Any compromise on the CR that fails to block the ObamaCare exchange subsidies is unacceptable.

On Saturday afternoon, Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership issued a joint statement indicating their intent to vote on two amendments to the Senate CR that was denuded of its key provisions to defund ObamaCare:

“The first amendment delays the president’s health care law by one year. And the second permanently repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax that is sending jobs overseas.”

Early Sunday, the House Republicans followed through on the plan. The key amendment is the first one referred to above, which delays most of ObamaCare’s core 2014 provisions, including the exchange subsidies and individual mandate, for one year.

The amendment is the product of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).  You can read the full text of the Blackburn Amendment on cspan.com, and you can view her floor speech offering the amendment on YouTube.

Leave the Pettiness to the Progressives

Bob Corker

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the strange new debate between conservatives over what they call themselves relative to which side they come down on the Ted Cruz “defund Obamacare” effort is just that it’s gotten contentious at all.

But it certainly has:

Corker, a Tennessee Republican, accused Cruz and fellow conservative Tea Party-backed Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah of not wanting to vote on legislation on Thursday night because they wished to maximize their public exposure on Friday.

They “have sent out emails around the world and turned this into a show possibly, and therefore they want people around the world to watch maybe them and others on the Senate floor,” Corker said on the Senate floor.

“That is taking priority over getting legislation back to the House so they can take action before the country’s government shuts down,” Corker said.

And Corker, of course, is just the latest among Republican Party legislators to bristle at what they consider a display of hubris and spotlight-seeking by new conservatives in the Senate like Utah’s Mike Lee and the aforementioned Cruz of Texas. As Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon writes, The intellectual contortions seemed painful…:

Replacing ObamaCare: AHCRA Proposes Standard Health Deduction

RSC ObamaCare Alternative

This is the first in a multi-part series exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

Last week, the Republican Study Committee introduced a comprehensive health bill that addresses a fundamental question facing the movement to defund/repeal ObamaCare: What would you replace it with?  The bill (H.R. 3121) is titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA), and it’s loaded with solid proposals to move us from the current government-driven ObamaCare model to a market-based, consumer-driven health care framework.

Many of the concepts detailed in AHCRA have been discussed in broad generalities by Republicans for years.  Now we have specific policy proposals in actual legislative form, and the good news is that there’s a lot to like.  At it’s core, AHCRA is a tax reform bill that revolves around its featured legislative proposal - the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance.

It Starts With One Thing

AHCRA Section 101:


Ted Cruz has been on the Senate floor for over 18 hours

Ted Cruz filibusters CR

“I rise today in opposition to ObamaCare. I rise today in an effort to speak for 26 million Texans and for 300 million Americans,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said yesterday at 2:41pm as he began a filibuster of the House version of the Continuing Resolution (CR), the stop-gap spending measure that Congress must past to avoid a government shutdown.

What has been billed as a “filibuster” isn’t actually a filibuster, as the motion to proceed on the CR will take place today regardless of what Cruz says. Nevertheless, Cruz has used his time — controlling the floor of the Senate for nearly 19 hours, the fourth longest speech in the chamber’s history — to express a multitude concerns about the 2010 healthcare law and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s opposition to raising the vote threshold for changes to the CR to 60 votes (only 51 votes are currently required to make changes).

House Republican proposes spending bill that would delay ObamaCare

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks’ endorsements of Graves’ plan.

Amid growing concerns that House Republicans will be unable to find the votes to pass a Continuing Resolution to before the end of the month, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) has proposed a measure that would keep the government open while also delaying implementation of ObamaCare until 2015.

House Republicans leaders tried some legislative trickery by proposing a Continuing Resolution that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. Division in the party’s ranks caused the leaders to delay a vote on the measure and threaten the cancelation of the September recess.

“After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,” said Graves, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals.”

Graves says the plan is “straightforward.” The measure funds the government a post-sequester levels, with the exception of defense and national security, while keeping true to House Republicans’ desire to delay and defund ObamaCare.

ObamaCare will cost more than expected, study suggests

ObamaCare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is a bad idea, according to a recent study carried out by researchers at Stanford University.

The report indicates that ObamaCare could cost much more than previous estimates. According to the study, employers may choose to drop worker health coverage once ObamaCare kicks in. That’s because the employer may find it more affordable to let employees obtain their own health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, which places households with an income that falls anywhere between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line in a group that may be benefited by publicly funded subsidies.

Once the number of people depending on publicly funded subsidies for health coverage goes up, the law becomes more costly to maintain.

The study also determined that about 37 million people could end up benefitting once the law is implemented, since employers would then give workers cash instead of paying for their health care coverage. By switching, employees could save by simply obtaining help from the government to get subsidized coverage, which is guaranteed by the exchanges.

While some households could benefit from that system, the law could be more costly to sustain, causing the Affordable Care Act to cost about $132 billion more than what was expected.

According to the study, an even greater number of employees could benefit from being dropped by their employers if premiums rise unexpectedly, which would add 2.25 million of people to the list of individuals receiving subsidized health coverage. Over 2 million people added to this list would increase the overall cost of the law by $6.7 billion.

FreedomWorks Hosts Defund ObamaCare Event

 Defund ObamaCare

FreedomWorks hosted a group of bloggers, social media stars, activists, and other liberty-loving folks at its D.C. offices this weekend to discuss the central issue we face today: Defunding ObamaCare.

Why Defund?

January 1, 2014 is the ObamaCare ultimatum. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has stated: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in.  Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.”

It’s crucial to use any constitutional resources at our disposal to prevent that from occurring.  Fortunately, the Constitution grants the House power over the purse.  This is the moment that the 2010 and 2012 Tea Party influx in the House needs to bear fruit.

The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30.  Congress must pass (and the President must sign) a continuing resolution (CR) by that date to continue funding the federal government as of October 1.  As explained by Dean Clancy, FreedomWorks Legislative Counsel and VP of Health Care Policy, the key to the defunding strategy is that the CR is a must-pass bill to avoid a temporary slowdown of non-essential government services.  This is the leverage we have.  We cannot waste it.

How Do We Defund?

Does the Administration Dream of ObamaCare Sheep?


Keep dreaming, the flock is scattered.  We’re less than one month away now from the supposed grand opening of the ObamaCare exchanges, and yet 44% of Americans aren’t even sure whether ObamaCare is still a law.

Which begs the question: Is ObamaCare a law?

This 44% shocker from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s August Health Tracking Poll reveals America’s collective “wtf?” when it comes to ObamaCare’s legal status.  Some appear to think that the House’s two symbolic full repeal attempts were actually successful (wishful thinking), others believe it was overturned by Chief Justice John Roberts and company (perhaps they read the advance copies before he went the “tax” route?).  But most (31%) just can’t figure out what the heck is going on with this law.  Can you blame them?

- Is it a law when President Obama spends years telling you that his signature legislation will let you can keep your plan and your doctor if you like them, but you’re now facing the reality of potentially losing both come 2014?

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