“The Day One Patient Freedom Plan,”released to the State Journal on Monday, also would open the door to shopping for health insurance across state lines and reorganize Medicaid.
Walker wrote the plan makes health insurance “more affordable and more portable.”
The plan is the first policy paper Walker has released after officially jumping into the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination in June. Walker will formally release the plan in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Tuesday.
But the plan doesn’t outline costs, or how many people would be covered. According to Walker’s campaign, the plan is a trillion-dollar tax cut because it repeals ObamaCare and will be paid for by reorganizing Medicaid.
Walker’s plan also aims to lower health insurance premiums, but does not provide specifics about how that would be accomplished.
Walker wrote his plan would increase health coverage options for individuals and businesses, eliminating regulations put forth by the Obamacare plan.
“This could lower premiums by up to 25 percent by eliminating ObamaCare’s regulations and by encouraging real competition among health insurers and providers.
The absence of details on costs and coverage estimates makes it nearly impossible to compare with current law. For the period from April-June of this year, 11.4 percent of U.S. adults were uninsured, which translates to about 16 million people gaining coverage since the rollout of the health care law in 2013.
Walker and other Republican candidates have insisted they would repeal the law, starting on the first day of a GOP presidency. The biggest hurdle Walker, and any opponent of the law, faces is getting it repealed. That would take 60 votes in the Senate, and Walker’s plan does not address how he would undo the law in any other way.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld a key portion of the Affordable Care Act allowing for federal subsidies to defray the cost of coverage, a major defeat for opponents of the law. Walker and other Republicans have been fighting the law both in court and on the campaign trail since 2010.
Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at the Center for American Progress, a think tank often aligned with the White House, said Walker’s plan would be a step backward.
“The math only adds up if he’s slashing Medicaid and increasing taxes on middle-class people with employer plans,” Spiro said.
While the Walker plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act, it appears to use some similar kinds of tools to promote coverage. For example, there would be no requirement for individuals to carry health insurance or face fines, as there is currently. But, in order to be guaranteed affordable coverage without regard to pre-existing medical problems, individuals would have to “maintain continuous, creditable coverage.”
There’s merit to Walker staking out his position on the issue, even though he doesn’t explain how the law would be repealed, said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank.
“There’s a lot of this that is fairly standard conservative health policy reform,” Holtz-Eakin said. “The basic plan looks familiar.”
Walker, similar to current law, would also provide tax credits to help with the cost of coverage. But unlike current law, those credits of between $900 and $3,000 would be based on age and not be keyed to a person’s income. So they may not help low- to moderate-income people as much as the existing tax breaks do.
Walker’s plan calls for eliminating unspecified regulations in the current law, a move that Walker claims would lower premiums by 25 percent.
Other elements of the plan would include extending a $1,000 refundable tax credit for anyone who signs up for a health savings account, allowing people to shop for health insurance across state lines, reorganizing Medicaid into smaller programs, and giving states more regulatory authority.
He would also allow for new health insurance purchasing agreements and deregulate the long-term care insurance market.
(c)2015 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
Visit The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) at www.wisconsinstatejournal.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.