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Commentary By Chris Pope

A Well-Focused Reform to Make Health Care Affordable

Health Healthcare

The Senate GOP bill succeeds by focusing subsidies on the neediest.

The Senate’s health-care reform bill released last week makes great strides toward succeeding where the House GOP struggled and the Affordable Care Act failed.

By upending insurance regulations, rather than just subsidizing the purchase of plans by the 2.2 million Americans on the individual market with pre-existing conditions, the ACA has fallen well short of its promises. And the House GOP’s bill was so unpopular because its subsidies were even less well focused on the needy than those of the ACA: Making its credits available to all left them woefully inadequate for those who truly needed them.

The Senate proposal demonstrates a far better understanding of what the circumstances demand: to maintain a guarantee of affordable quality coverage dedicated to individuals with pre-existing conditions, while allowing a fully competitive insurance market to provide attractive coverage priced in proportion to the needs of most Americans seeking care.

Republicans have traditionally advocated high-risk pools to subsidize the care of individuals with pre-existing conditions, but Democrats have criticized their funding as inadequate. The Senate bill goes further by guaranteeing funding for a defined benefit to individuals with pre-existing conditions. It facilitates a more consumer-oriented guarantee of plan-benefit quality by linking subsidies to the most popular plan design, rather than by direct regulatory micromanagement of benefits, but it maintains the ACA’s requirements that exchange plans cover all individuals regardless of pre-existing conditions. It caps premiums at $21 per month for individuals with income at the poverty level, regardless of age or health status.

The Senate bill effectively turns the exchanges into....

Read the entire piece here at National Review Online


Chris Pope is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

This piece originally appeared in National Review Online