Republican Congressman Pitches John Kerry’s 2004 Health Care Plan As Obamacare Replacement

A Republican Congressman from Nebraska offered to replace the Affordable Care Act with a health care proposal that’s both similar to the law itself and reminiscent of a policy advocated by John Kerry during his presidential campaign in 2004.

During a town hall in Papillion, Nebraska last week, a constituent asked Rep. Lee Terry (R) for alternatives to President Obama’s health care law. The five-term congressman quickly pointed to the “Simple Universal Healthcare Act,” a bill he introduced in 2009, but hasn’t offered since.

The measure would provide coverage “in a manner similar to the manner in which coverage has been provided to Members of Congress and Federal Government employees and retirees and their dependents under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP),” an exchange of private health care plans. In 2009, Terry even considered providing federal subsidies to help low-income families and individuals afford coverage.

Watch Terry explain his plan:

Sound familiar? It should. The legislation, which didn’t garner any co-sponsors, is similar to the ACA’s system of state-based exchanges — where private insurers are now submitting bids in preparation for the open enrollment period — and is highly reminiscent of Democrats’ 2004 health care plan.


During his town hall, Lee remarked that the large federal exchange pools risk and lowers the cost of coverage for government workers. All 10 million federal employees are “all put into one pool” and “then insurance companies come in and literally compete against each other so you’ll sign up with them,” he said. Kerry’s 2004 health care plan made the identical point: “Today, nine million Federal employees and their dependents get health care through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP),” it said. “John Kerry believes that all Americans should have access to the same affordable coverage policies that Members of Congress get today.”

During the Congressional debate over health care reform, Democrats proposed establishing a large federal exchange, modeled on the FEHBP, though more moderate members, and pressure from the insurance industry, ultimately led to the creation of 50 different marketplaces.


Terry was asked about the comparison between his proposal and Kerry’s 2004 plan during a town hall on Thursday. He quickly moved on to the next question. Watch it here.