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An Early Lead in the Health Wonk Primary for Jeb Bush

October 15, 2015

By Thomas P. Miller

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush released his 2016 health plan on Tuesday, including a 10-page background paper that fleshed out a shorter summary outline. The good news is that it’s more serious and detailed than the handful of plans offered by his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. The better news is that it tries to suggest several steps beyond the standard “repeal and replace” orthodoxy regarding Obamacare.

The disappointment involves a few predictable overstatements, incomplete gestures, and dodges. By the standards of past and present Republican presidential campaign plans thus far, his “Conservative Plan for 21st Century Health” puts Bush in the lead in the health policy wonk primary, without either surrendering the fight to overturn Obamacare or risking political liabilities within Republican ranks with more radical proposals.

First, most of the usual mainstream conservative boxes are checked.

  • Refundable tax credits for individuals without offers of employer-based coverage.
  • A move away from income-based redistribution of health care subsidies.
  • Avoiding blowing up current arrangements for employer-based insurance, even while offering new tax relief for individuals who buy insurance on their own.
  • Elimination of Washington’s mandates for coverage that employers must offer, individuals must buy, and insurers must cover.
  • Delegation to state governments for the harder work of Medicaid reform and health care deregulation.
  • Tilting tax advantages toward larger and less restrictive health savings accounts.
  • A short bow to the Religious Right in terms of protecting innocent human life (apparently preserving the death penalty for older criminals?) and related matters of conscience in practicing medicine.
  • And, of course, sufficient denunciations of the failures and horrors of Obamacare.

Second, the Bush plan tries to set a broader theme upfront. The former governor wants to project his campaign as forward looking and 21st Century, while he criticizes current health policies largely as remnants of a failed past. The health care future is not now, but it could arrive right after the next round of elections.

Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: An early lead in the health wonk primary for Jeb Bush

Issue Categories : Health Care, Jeb Bush