GOP Offers Up a New Health Care Propo....z z z z z....al

| Mon Mar. 17, 2014 1:25 PM EDT

I hear that House Republicans have a shiny new health care plan they plan to introduce sometime soon. Before I read past the headlines, let me take a guess at what's in it:

  • Tort reform
  • Health savings accounts
  • Interstate purchase of health plans
  • High-risk pools

OK, now let's take a look. Here is Robert Costa in the Washington Post:

The plan includes an expansion of high-risk insurance pools, promotion of health savings accounts and inducements for small businesses to purchase coverage together. The tenets of the plan — which could expand to include the ability to buy insurance across state lines, guaranteed renewability of policies and changes to medical-malpractice regulations — are ideas that various conservatives have for a long time backed as part of broader bills.

Hmmm. It looks like I missed a couple of things: "inducements" for small businesses and "guaranteed renewability" of policies. Still, I nailed the main points. That's a pretty amazing feat of crystal ball gazing, isn't it?

No, of course not. It's like predicting that a Republican tax plan will include lower rates on the rich. They might package it in different wrapping paper, but it's always the same old stuff. And it's worth keeping in mind that guaranteed renewability of policies has been the law for a long time, so it's unlikely the GOP plan actually offers anything substantive on that point. Ditto for the small business "inducements," which will probably just turn out to be tax cuts of some kind.

Basically, Republican health care proposals are always, always, always a repackaging of the four tired old points above. Nobody seriously thinks that any of them will expand access to health care in any serious way, but that doesn't matter. These are the only things Republicans can all agree on, so that's what they always propose. Whether it works or not isn't really the point.

If you want more detail about all this, rather than just my exasperated Cliff Notes version, check out Jonathan Cohn here. He has it all covered.

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