This strikes me as far less important than people are making it out to be:
Under fierce attack by Democrats over the children’s health insurance plan, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner said Sunday Republicans will unveil their own health care plan over the next few months.
“Republicans are working on a plan that will provide access to all Americans to high quality health insurance, make sure that we increase the quality of insurance that we have in American, and we want to foster a sprit of innovation,” said Boehner on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a plan we’ll see over the next coming months where we put the patients in charge of their health care.”
This is being billed as a Republican “universal health care plan”. That seems wrong. John Chafee’s proposal in 1994 was a universal health care plan. This isn’t. Yes, Boehner pays lip service to “provid[ing] access to all Americans”, but any real universal plan requires either massive private insurance subsidies and cost-controls or a massive new government plan (or, in the case of hybrid plans like those of the Democratic candidates, both). I doubt Boehner is willing to put out a plan that involves either of those.
Instead, here’s what I think is going to happen. I think Boehner’s plan will expand the tax deductions allowed for HSAs, maybe add in a matching contribution from the government, and mandate individuals to get a plan. That’s it. If there are subsidies, they’ll be wholly inadequate; employers won’t be asked to contribute squat. What it would do, essentially, is force millions of uninsured persons to buy crappy, high-deductible plans that they can barely afford so as best to line the pockets of insurance companies without appropriating federal funds. Would it be cruel? Of course. Would we expect anything less from the man who fought S-CHIP? Moreover, it would allow him to claim the mantle of universality while simultaneously not giving any ground on those things his party values most (namely, the insurance lobby and limiting federal social spending). I can very well see people like David Broder looking at a godawful plan like that and embracing it as showing the seriousness of House Republicans.
But at the end of the day, Boehner doesn’t want to pass his own plan. He knows no Democrat will back whatever crap be comes up with. He wants to put it up for a vote and put Democrats on the record as opposing universal health care. It’s a political move, not a good faith policy proposal. I think at this point it’s folly to expect any better from Boehner.