There's Not Much Point in Pretending to Care About the New Republican Health Care Plan

| Fri Jan. 31, 2014 10:32 AM EST

I have been derelict in my duty. A team of Republicans introduced a genuine alternative to Obamacare earlier this week, and I haven't blogged about it. I'll be honest: I just couldn't work up the energy for several reasons.

  • Even on fleeting inspection, it's obviously a feeble plan. It would cover very few people; most of the people it does cover couldn't come close to affording it; and its policies would offer benefits so meager as to be almost useless.
  • The small amount of good it does is funded by reducing the tax deduction for employer health care. This is a joke. It would meet with massive resistance from virtually every Republican constituency. In particular, Grover Norquist would score it as a tax hike (which it is) and that means it would be DOA in the Republican caucus.
  • Even without the tax hike, this bill is going nowhere. I'll give props to Tom Coburn and his friends for at least taking a semi-serious shot at health care reform, but no one seriously thinks it would have any chance of garnering even majority Republican support, let alone passing Congress.

As Dylan Scott reports, the sponsors of this bill have already watered down the tax hike. It barely took them a day. The new wording is a little vague, but it most likely eliminates the new funding entirely. And without funding, the bill is even more of a joke than it was to begin with.

It's really kind of pointless to pretend that this is a real plan with real prospects of getting Republican support, but if you want to read all the details of the plan anyway, Jonathan Cohn has you covered here. As always, Cohn is very gentlemanly about the whole thing, but his bottom line is accurate: "The authors of the Patient CARE Act and many of their allies are acting as if conservatives have some magic elixir for health care problems—a way to provide the same kind of security that the Affordable Care Act will, but with a lot less interference in the market and a lot less taxpayer money. It's all the goodies of liberal health care reform, they imply, but without the unpleasant parts. They're wrong."

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