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Republicans have a ‘new’ plan to replace Obamacare with every bad idea they’ve ever had

House Speaker Paul Ryan CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ANDREW HARNIK
House Speaker Paul Ryan CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ANDREW HARNIK

After years of promising to produce legislation to replace Obamacare — and failing to deliver — House Republicans will finally unveil a proposal on Wednesday they claim will offer a viable alternative to the president’s landmark health care reform law.

But Wednesday’s highly-anticipated plan is yet another letdown for anyone who has been holding out for new ideas from Republican lawmakers.

During a tumultuous presidential campaign that’s been marked by division within the Republican Party, House Speaker Paul Ryan is working on emphasizing the GOP’s serious policy agenda. His Obamacare replacement plan is part of a larger “A Better Way” initiative to refocus the conversation on how Republicans actually want to govern.

Ryan’s health care proposal, however, is hardly a serious policy plan.

His document, which is a 37-page white paper rather than a piece of legislation, is still thin on details. It doesn’t include information about exactly how many people would be covered, exactly how much the proposal would cost, or exactly how much assistance Americans would receive in the form of tax credits to help them buy insurance.

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Instead, the paper cobbles together a collection of well-worn GOP proposals — like establishing high-risk pools for Americans with pre-existing conditions, allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines, offering insurance to people with pre-existing conditions only if they’ve maintained continuous coverage, block granting the Medicaid program, and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) — that Republicans have been floating for the past two presidential election cycles. Though these ideas often make up the heart of Obamacare replacement plans, they haven’t been enough for Republicans to coalesce around actual legislation.

The GOP’s ‘First Priority Of 2016’ Is Pretending They Can Repeal ObamacareHealth by CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh Republicans in Congress have wasted no time in establishing their lead battle of…thinkprogress.orgWithout more detail, it’s hard to say exactly how Ryan’s vague plan would impact the American public. But it includes proposals that policy experts have long criticized — saying they won’t do enough to help the uninsured and would make health care too costly for sick Americans.

And of course, every GOP health policy proposal begins with the assumption that Obamacare would be repealed. Rolling back that law, which has been in effect for the past six years and has reshaped the insurance landscape of the country, would result in an estimated 20 million people losing access to health care.

Despite its holes, Ryan’s plan represents the most comprehensive Obamacare replacement plan to date — and the first time that GOP politicians in one house of Congress appear united behind one approach to health care reform.

At the beginning of the year, Ryan declared that getting rid of Obamacare would be his “top priority.” Regardless of who succeeds President Obama, however, repealing Obamacare is little more than a pipe dream for Republicans. Aside from the complex nature of unwinding the current insurance system, they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to overcome the Democrats who would stand in their way.

Nonetheless, Republicans in the House have so far voted to repeal Obamacare more than 60 times.