Scott Walker will outline his proposal for dealing with health care reform in a speech Tuesday
His plan would repeal Obamcare and its subsidies and replace it with individual tax credits
Walker's plan keeps the ban on employers discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker outlined a health care plan Tuesday that would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a mashup of conservative priorities, from capping Medicaid payments to letting people buy insurance across state lines.
Walker, who has been slipping in national polls recently, cast the proposal as a fight against Washington and said he would also end the special exemption for members of Congress carved out in the federal Affordable Care Act.
He cast his plan, Tuesday, in terms of a broken promise from Congressional Republicans to repeal Obamacare.
“People all across this country are fed up with Washington, I feel your pain, I’m fed up with Washington, too,” Walker said. “I think about this, we were told by Republican leaders during the campaign cycle last year that we just needed a Republican Senate to be elected to repeal Obamacare. Well here we sit, you know both chambers of the United States Congress have been controlled since January by Republicans and yet there’s not a bill on the president’s desk to repeal Obamacare.”
Walker, who has argued throughout the campaign that he is best positioned to win conservative reforms in Washington, recounted taking on legislative Republicans in Wisconsin when he won his first term as governor.
“I said to them the voters had told us they wanted is to be big and be bold,” Walker said. “As you can imagine, at the time, there were some Republican lawmakers who were kind of uneasy with the idea of taking on the status quo. I said it’s put up or shut up time.”
One of Walker’s Republican opponents immediately blasted the plan, however, calling it “Obamacare-lite”.
“Yes, there are good features to Governor Walker’s plan. But, his plan is fundamentally accepting the premise of Obamacare – that we need a new federal entitlement program,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement Tuesday. “Surely we as Republicans have more courage than this. Surely we can do better than simply producing our own versions of Obamacare lite.”
One of the central elements of the Walker proposal replaces the Obama weath-based subsidies for health plans with flat tax credits, ranging between $900 and $3,000 per person, based on their age.
The Walker proposal, the first major policy rollout from his campaign, calls for “capped allotments” to states for some parts of Medicaid while allowing acute care payments to continue uncapped.
He said, Tuesday, he would outline other proposals in the coming weeks.
Health care subsidies – one of the key pieces for helping low- and middle-income residents sign up for health plans through the Obama law – would be replaced instead with individual tax credits to help people purchase health care. The credits would be available to anyone not covered by their employers and vary only based on age – not income – and range between $900 and $3,000.
He also calls for increasing how much can be placed in a health savings account tax-free and eliminating the health plan requirements set in law, returning to the old system of letting state regulators set the guidelines for health plans.
Walker also writes, in his 13-page policy outline, that he would eliminate all taxes associated with the federal Affordable Care Act and pay for his plan’s costs through savings made from reforming and streamlining federal government.
“To offset these improvements, we would simplify and reform how the federal government helps people access health insurance,” Walker writes in his plan. “We would empower states to run Medicaid in a way that is more effective, efficient, and accountable, and work with Congress to reform the way the tax code treats gold-plated, employer-sponsored health care plans.”
“This is what we did in Wisconsin. We rejected the false-choice narrative between raising taxes and austerity, and instead enacted bold reforms,” Walker wrote.
The second-term governor would still, however, keep some key (and popular) pieces of President Barack Obama’s signature law. People with pre-existing conditions would be covered as long as they maintain continuous coverage. But Walker would leave it to states to decide how long children can stay on their parents’ health plans.
Walker did not say, Tuesday, precisely how he would pay for the plan or how much it is anticipated to cost.