In an amusing sign of the times, John Boehner promises to deliver a Republican answer to Democratic proposals for healthcare coverage. I don’t have any inside track on this but we can safely rule out any proposal that involves expanding Medicare or SCHIP or implementing a program that models the VA. If Boehner drops even a hint of government-managed healthcare in his proposal the base will eat his liver. We can also rule out mandates that will piss off the insurance biz, e.g. adding new regulations that block insurers from dumping risky individuals.
What does that leave? The most obvious answer is for Boehner to endorse the Giuliani plan of paying for everyone’s health care through tax credits, but that faces the problem that Giuliani’s “plan” isn’t really a plan. Until Giuliani explains how he plans to deal with people who pay mostly payroll taxes and what sort of “plan” those tax credits will go towards paying he just has a few moderately interesting bullet points.
My money says that Boehner will reach deep into the box of failed Republican ideas and bring back “health savings accounts.” It covers the rightwing agenda points as effectively as privatizing Social Security, and like Social Security privatization the public hated it. Individualizing healthcare costs glosses over the simple fact that the few people who come down with expensive or chronic diseases will burn through a pitiful Health Savings Account in the time it takes to finish one round of chemo. God save those with the bad luck to get sick young when there isn’t much in the account. It shouldn’t be hard to remind people why the idea died in utero the first time it came up.
Heck, maybe I’m wrong and Boehner will find some new way to combine tax cuts, reduced government care and industry giveaways. But if I’m right, super. Nothing would make me happier than watching the GOP flame out on yet another topic of major national importance.