Despite claims to the contrary by Democrats and the media, Republicans in Congress have a concrete alternative to Obamacare—Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) has introduced legislation that would expand healthcare coverage without requiring a mandate.
The Choice in Healthcare Act would establish an expandable pilot program in California’s impoverished San Joaquin Valley, a region whose Medicaid participation rate is twice the national average.
"If it can work here, it can work anywhere," said Nunes.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare’s individual mandate last Thursday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said, "[Chief Justice Roberts] did not want to be the Chief Justice that struck down [Obama’s] healthcare [plan] because it’s the only healthcare plan in this country available right now. There is no alternative Republican plan."
Nunes co-sponsored the Patients’ Choice Act in 2009 with Paul Ryan and 12 other Republicans.
In a June 21 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Nunes argued that Obamacare will collapse under the weight of its own bureaucracy, and wrote, "We need to begin assembling the components of a replacement plan that works better than ObamaCare."
Nunes’ plan will simplify the existing healthcare system, replacing numerous bureaucratic mechanisms with a "Medi-choice" debit card that low-income and senior citizens can use to purchase health insurance and pay out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Unused funds will be rolled over for future use, encouraging individuals to spend wisely.
"It’s ludicrous to start a new system when Medicare and Medicaid are already broke," said Nunes.
Unlike Obamacare, Nunes’ plan will be strictly voluntary. "We’re not looking to mandate anything like some people like to do," said Nunes.
Nunes’ plan is supported by the San Joaquin Valley medical community, earning endorsements from the CEOs of Tulare County Medical Society, the Kaweah Delta Health Care District, Community Medical Centers, and the Family HealthCare Network.
"I applaud Congressman Nunes’ efforts to develop a demonstration project for the Central Valley as an alternative healthcare delivery system which is designed to improve quality, reduce costs, and ensure access to healthcare services for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries," said Lindsay Mann, CEO of Kaweah Delta Health Care District.
Nunes was unperturbed by the Supreme Court’s decision that Obamacare’s individual mandate is a tax and is therefore Constitutional.
"The Dems refused to admit it was a tax," said Nunes, echoing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reaction: "[Obamacare] was sold to the American people on a deception."
According to Nunes, whether Obamacare is repealed or simply fails, the Choice in Healthcare Act will remain a viable alternative to government-mandated healthcare.
"The entire system is crumbling," said Nunes. "The only way to fix it is something like [the Choice in Healthcare Act]."