The growing number of Obamacare failures creates an opportunity for conservatives to make a persuasive case for a replacement, experts said at a policy briefing held by the Conservative Reform Network and the Hoover Institution in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
"On healthcare, we too often hear that people on our side, that conservatives don’t have a plan," said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute. "Conservatives overwhelmingly agree on principals and pillars for reform and for a replace[ment] plan."
Turner notes that the topic of healthcare has been virtually absent from the Republican presidential primary conversation because candidates agree on reform so much that they find it difficult to differentiate themselves from each other.
"For all the damage that Obamacare has done, there is a silver lining," said Turner. "It has awakened Americans about the inadequacies and costs of a government-centric healthcare system. This awakening I think has a significant opportunity for conservatives, but making the most of this opportunity requires convincing Americans that we do have a solid replacement and a series or reform proposals."
According to Turner, those reforms should be based upon four key policy principles. First, the plan should promote security and freedom for consumers by providing a refundable credit for individuals who are not offered insurance at work. Individuals could use the credit toward any health insurance policy approved by a state, and it would be portable, individually owned, and would offer cost transparency.
Second, the plan would promote state flexibility by allowing the states to receive federal health funding in a single allotment. This way, the state would have the flexibility, funding, and authority to control the regulation of health insurance, instead of the federal government.
Third, the plan would modernize Medicare to ensure that it can be preserved for future generations and for current retirees. By modeling Medicare after the Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage programs, experts say the new plan will enhance choice and provide cost-savings for beneficiaries.
"To protect Medicare, we have to let seniors know that injecting more consumer choice in the program is going to save the program and give them more options that they want and need," Turner said. "We have to make sure that the most vulnerable understand that we are on their side and are trying to protect these programs for them, so that they’re able to get the care they need without competing with so many other people who may have other options for care and coverage."
Finally, the plan would foster innovation so that breakthrough treatments and innovations in bio-pharmaceuticals are more readily accessible. The reform would include streamlining the FDA’s drug-approval process.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) echoed the proposals saying that America is seeing the perils of Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all policy.
"There’s a lot of ideas out there, and we’re committed to working toward advancing a new patient-centered vision," he said.