MADISON, Wis. – Speaker Paul Ryan has arguably become congress’ biggest salesman, playing pitchman for his party’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with a series of tax credits and health savings accounts that, Ryan asserts, will release the full power of the free market.
The Janesville Republican gave an audio version of his sales pitch Friday on the Vicki McKenna Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN in Milwaukee. He did so a day after providing a PowerPoint presentation on the Republican plan, rolling out a series of explanatory slides to those in attendance and the wider C-SPAN and cable news network audiences.
Ryan told McKenna that the American Health Care Act, as House Republicans are billing the Obamacare replacement plan, is part of three-act congressional play aimed at straightening out what conservatives (and anyone who has experienced skyrocketing premiums under the Affordable Care Act) assert is the health care insurance mess the Obama administration left behind.
“No.1 is the American Health Care Act, which is repealing the Obamacare spending, the Obamacare taxing, the Obamacare mandates, and replacing with Republican health care policy that has been longstanding conservative policy for decades – risk pools, health care savings accounts, tax credits for people in individual markets, which equalizes the tax treatment of health care to go buy what they want in a free market,” Ryan said.
The next step, according to the speaker, is to lean on Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to use the power Obmacare granted the federal agency: enormous discretion. Ryan said Price can move to deregulate the marketplace and then “turn it back to the states so the states take over regulating health insurance like it was before Obamacare.”
Democrats have railed that the plan Ryan is pushing will rob the working poor of their new-found health insurance under the government-led Obamacare and a return to broader free-market control will send premiums soaring once more.
Ryan said competition, not burdensome government regulation and control, will save American health care from collapsing.
At the same time, Act 3 is all about a suite of conservative legislation that will empower associations and individuals to determine their own health care needs, Ryan said. And House leadership plans to take these “popular” bills to the Senate and the Senate Democrats the GOP is targeting in 2018.
“Let the Wisconsin farmer buy her insurance through the National Farm Bureau. Let the small business person buy insurance through the National Federation of Independent Business, and use the bulk buying power of millions of small business owners,” the speaker said.
Republicans also are taking another crack at tort reform, placing caps on the kinds of malpractice lawsuit judgments, they say, have financially crippled the health care industry and, consequently, health care consumers.
Ryan isn’t trying to make converts of Obamacare apostles. His pitch is to those in his party concerned about the generous advanced tax credits and other big-ticket spending proposals in the repeal-and-replace plan.
He’ll have to persuade the GOP’s standard bearer, President Donald Trump, too.
“But the group that Ryan really wanted to reach was much smaller: the Republican lawmakers—mostly conservatives—who are balking at the leadership’s bill and who will ultimately determine in the next few weeks whether it advances,” Russell Berman of The Atlantic wrote.
“To those members, Ryan’s most important message came at the end, and it boiled down to just a couple of sentences that have nothing to do with health-care policy. ‘This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Ryan said. “It really comes down to a binary choice.’”
“It’s now or never, and it’s this or nothing,” Berman wrote.
Listen to Vicki McKenna’s interview with Speaker Paul Ryan here.
M.D. Kittle is bureau chief for Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment reporter for Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected]