Although many conservatives are becoming desperate to distance themselves – and their party – from the “repeal or replace” war they have waged on the Affordable Care Act, several Republican candidates running in 2014 have proven unwilling or unable to cut the cord.
With Election Day just months away, many GOP candidates now find themselves on the defensive, as hopes of repealing the law slowly die, and they struggle to introduce their own “replace” plans.
Read on to learn which six Republicans cannot actually explain what “replacing” Obamacare would entail, but are nonetheless vowing to do so.
AFP Photo/Karen Bleier
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a longtime foe of Obamacare, which he described in the past as a “reform that denies, delays or rations health care.”
As an alternative, McConnell says, “What I would have done instead is first of all tear down the walls, the 50 separate silos in which health insurance is controlled, and pit all the health insurance companies against each other in a national competitive market. Competition almost always works to keep prices down and quality up.”
As The Washington Post points out, this simple idea already has holes: Namely, the hundreds of thousands of Kentucky residents who cannot afford to buy health insurance, and depend on Medicaid. Approximately 300,000 Kentuckians have obtained coverage through the state’s Medicaid expansion, and an additional 300,000 residents are not yet covered.
To deal with this issue, McConnell suggests allowing Kentucky to keep expanded Medicaid up to 133 percent of cost if it is what residents want. Of course, the senator did not elaborate on how Kentucky would pay for that expansion without the Affordable Care Act (the bill would run approximately $584 million per year). He also did not acknowledge that his “replacement” model is more of a pick-and-choose repeal effort.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
A staunch opponent of Obamacare, freshman U.S. representative Tom Cotton (R-AR) maintains that he wants “every Arkansan” and “every American” to have “quality, affordable access to health care.”
However, when asked to actually specify an alternative to Obamacare that would ensure this, Cotton did the usual GOP dance. “Once we repeal Obamacare, Arkansas, like every state, will address its own needs, hopefully with a Medicaid system that has been returned to them and lets them address their needs for the entire state,” he answered.
Cotton also refused to take a stance on Arkansas’ “private option” plan — which uses Medicaid funds to purchase health insurance for low-income residents – calling it a “state-based issue.” Meanwhile, he failed to acknowledge that the private option — which has allowed 100,000 Arkansas residents to obtain coverage, and is expected to help an additional 100,000 do the same — exists only if Obamacare does, too.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown — who, as a Massachusetts state senator, helped pass the “Romneycare” law on which the Affordable Care Act is largely based — despises Obamacare and wants it fully repealed. According to Brown, the Affordable Care Act is the “biggest issue in New Hampshire,” which is now asking for federal approval to implement its own private option alternative to Medicaid expansion that would use Obamacare funds to provide 50,000 poor residents with private health insurance. He is shy about elaborating on an alternative plan, however.
“I’m not going to get into any particulars,” he told reporters in May. “I know you want the details on a plan, but I think I’ve made a general concept as to what has been done.”
Oddly, the only thing Brown has made clear is that if he could fully repeal Obamacare, he would still want to ensure that beneficiaries get “grandfathered in,” so they do not lose coverage. Brown has still not explained how that could work.
Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr
Terri Lynn Land
“The fact remains that Obamacare is driving up costs, causing people to lose their doctors and their plans, and it’s cutting Medicare,” Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land (MI) said in a press call marking the four-year anniversary of the president’s signing of the Affordable Care Act in March.
Still, Land — who supports a full repeal of the law — has not introduced an alternative to the reform. Nor has she taken a stance on Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, through which 270,000 low-income people — half of the 477,000 uninsured and eligible residents — have already gained coverage. Land only says that she “applauds” Michigan governor Rick Snyder – who is opting to expand Medicaid in the state — for “doing what he believes is best for Michigan families, while complying with mandates from Congress brought down in Obamacare.”
Photo: Terri Land via YouTube
Shelley Moore Capito
Representative Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) senatorial campaign wants very little to do with the Affordable Care Act, which she acknowledges will be probably not be repealed despite her own wishes.
Yet, she still finds the law flawed and argues that “there are changes that need to be made,” and “we’ve got to reform it and make it work for children, families, and businesses.”
However, Capito has not elaborated on these “changes” or “reforms.” She also ignores the fact that West Virginia’s rate of Medicaid enrollments is second in the United States since it expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act, and she refuses to answer whether or not the state should continue with the expansion.
Photo: House GOP via YouTube
North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican candidate for Senate in North Carolina — where the fight for Medicaid expansion continues — wants a full repeal of Obamacare, but does not have his own replacement plan.
When asked if he agrees with Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) alternative plan — which does not involve a full repeal of the ACA — Tillis answered that the “outline” is worthy of consideration, but refused to give a firm answer.
Tillis’ own vision is similarly vague and again turns into just old Obamacare-bashing rhetoric. “I think there’s a lot of things we can do if we focus on a systematic approach to eliminating the bad,” he said in February. “Let’s focus on the [safety] net problem versus a policy that’s creating as many problems as it fixes in terms of health care, and then it’s also creating the most devastating problem of a deficit and debt that we can’t afford.”
Photo: AndrewMurray4DA via Flickr
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