National Review Denounces Republican Health Care Plan

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JONATHAN CHAIT DECEMBER 29, 2010

National Review Denounces Republican Health Care Plan

Daniel Foster has an item at National Review headlined:

Early Word: Obamacare High-Risk Pools Unpopular, Expensive

It links to a story showing that state-level high risk health insurance pools, which cover people with preexisting conditions, are attracting few takers and costing more than expected per person. What does this mean? Here's what. During the health care reform debate, Republicans consistently advocated for high risk pools. Here's some commentary from National Review

Jeffrey Anderson:

"GOP lawmakers can immediately provide much-needed help for the uninsured who have preexisting conditions by providing full funding for state-run high-risk pools (preferably in combination with offering long-overdue tax-breaks for the uninsured, as Ross Douthat advocates). Obamacare would address the problem of covering those with expensive preexisting conditions by mandating that insurers offer them coverage in the regular market, at artificially low rates...[T]he high-risk-pool approach makes colossally more sense." 

James Cepretta and Thomas Miller:

"A better alternative, and one much less disruptive to current policyholders, would be to provide adequate and sustainable funding of high-risk pools. Today, most--but not all--states have subsidized high-risk pools that are intended to reduce premiums in the individual marketplace for people with expensive preexisting conditions. They are the most common way for states to comply with HIPAA's requirement that workers leaving group plans have access to the individual market."

Ramesh Ponuru:

“Obamacare is supposed to establish high-risk pools to help people with preexisting conditions — as a short-term measure until the new entitlement and regulations kick in. Republicans have advocated such high-risk pools, too, but as a way to help sick people without ruining private insurance.”

Ponuru again:

“[Timothy] Noah argues that subsidized high-risk pools are fine as a transition measure to be followed by Obamacare, but a terrible idea as a stand-alone. But most conservatives favor it precisely as a transition measure. They believe that if government allowed a robust market in individual insurance to develop, it would be easier for people to purchase cheap and renewable insurance policies before they got sick and the problem of “pre-existing conditions” would therefore diminish over time.”

National Review's editorial board:

"[The third part of the Pledge to America] is health care, where the Republicans...plan to work toward their own health-care reforms, including medical-malpractice reform, freedom to buy health insurance across state lines, and better-funded high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions...The pledge is explicitly a beginning to the lengthy task of providing conservative governance, and a very good one."

Stephen Spruiell:

“States have conducted successful experiments with “high-risk pools.""

Yuval Levin:

“After all, mandating the purchase of insurance is by no means the only way to address the problem of covering people with pre-existing conditions..[H]igh-risk pools can achieve this too, and without a mandate.”

Liberal health care wonks insisted that high risk pools tended to work very badly and were at best a stopgap solution. Democrats included some expanded high risk pools as a carryover, they-can't-hurt palliative until the full reform goes online. Obviously, they haven't done much good. But Othat hardly tells you that "Obamacare" has failed.

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posted in: jonathan chait, daniel foster, jeffrey anderson, ross douthat, republican party

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