Jeb Bush’s Obamacare Replacement Scraps Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions

Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a small business town hall meeting. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN RAOUX
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a small business town hall meeting. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN RAOUX

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush unveiled a plan Tuesday to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare. But the plan offered few details on how exactly he would undo the current law, which has survived dozens of congressional votes to repeal it and two Supreme Court challenges, and how Americans with serious health problems would fare under his new formula.

“We can’t stick with the status quo,” Bush told a New Hampshire audience. “A system that is focused on people rather than government will yield a better result. And I have the zeal for reform, I can promise you that.”

But what exactly that reform would entail remains unclear. Bush emphasized Tuesday that if elected president, he would scrap the Affordable Care Act and “all of its mandates” — including those that prevent discrimination against women and those with pre-existing conditions. He also hinted at getting rid of the law’s provision making all forms of birth control available cost-free, saying, “One of the most egregious things [about Obamacare] is that you’re forced to do things against your own conscience. We’ll get rid of that.” Since it took effect in 2012, the birth control mandate has saved women hundreds of dollars per year and has aided the drop in unplanned pregnancies, which are a financial burden on individual families and the overall economy.

With insurance companies re-empowered to refuse to cover pregnant women and cancer patients, Bush’s plan would “encourage” — but not require — “states to guarantee access for those with pre-existing conditions and to make affordable health plans available in their states.”


Those not able to get insurance from their work would receive an unspecified tax credit to purchase private insurance, and all federal subsidies for such plans would be eliminated. Bush said Tuesday that so-called catastrophic insurance, which has a high deductible and only covers major surgeries or accidents, is “the true form of insurance that should be the norm.” Such plans force patients to pay out-of-pocket for regular doctor visits and basic medications.

“That should be the focus, making sure people have catastrophic coverage,” he said.

Bush’s proposal would also end the Medicaid program as it exists today, turning its funding over to states who could elect to privatize the program — as Bush himself did in Florida, leading to a spike in the number of uninsured people in the Sunshine State.

The most-used word in Bush’s speech Tuesday was “innovation.” Describing technical wonders from 3D printed organs to a smartphone app that summons on-demand doctors, he promised that health care costs would automatically decrease if he gets the chance to “get Washington out of the way” and “liberate our system to allow for much more innovation to take place.”

“If we get this right, we’ll have our grandchildren living way beyond 100,” he said.

At the same time, Bush warned of the dangers of keeping the Affordable Care Act on the books, telling an audience of New Hampshire students that their insurance premium rates are set to increase by 20 to 50 percent next year. Analysts dispute this claim, saying the “worst case scenario” is an 18.5 percent jump.