Romney's Policy Director Slams GOP on Health Care

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Aug. 16 2013 2:09 PM

Mitt Romney's Former Policy Director Slams GOP on Health Care  

Lanhee Chen, policy director for the Romney 2012 campaign, says Republicans need to stop obsessing over Obamacare repeal and start developing Obamacare alternatives:

Rather than debating the merits of shutting down the federal government over funding for Obamacare, Republicans should be able to respond to President Obama’s outrageous claim that our party is unified behind “making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care” with more than just a call to defund his signature health-care law. We should be able to present the American people with common sense ideas and positive alternatives that address Obamacare’s fundamental deficiencies.

Good advice. The problem is that the rest of his article makes it clear that Obama's "outrageous" claim is in fact accurate:

Despite these ideas, Republicans have avoided the discussion of what should replace Obamacare because there are divisions within the party over the best policy approach. There is broad agreement that cost remains the primary problem, so policies that speak to this concern -- enabling the interstate purchase of health insurance, reforming the medical liability system, and bringing greater transparency to the pricing of medical procedures -- are broadly popular. Republicans also agree on changing the existing tax treatment of health care, which discriminates against those who obtain health insurance on their own, rather than through employers.
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These ideas are not ideas that will help low-income Americans who lack employer-provided health insurance obtain insurance. Nor are these ideas that will help people whose pre-existing medical conditions have left them locked out of the system obtain insurance. The Affordable Care Act addresses those 30 million through the dual tools of regulation (so companies can't just deny insurance coverage to sick people) and subsidies (so low-income people can afford insurance). The ideas in Chen's zone of consensus don't replace either of those tools. In fact, interstate purchasing of insurance by gutting state-level insurance regulation does just the opposite and will increase the number of people who can't get coverage for conditions they actually suffer from.

And there's no mystery as to why this is. You can't provide a valuable service to people without spending money. In this case you have to spend the money on low-income people. And Republicans don't believe in spending money on helping low-income people.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.