After five years of busily passing symbolic legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in Congress have at long last come up with an alternative proposal, covered here by the New York Times:
Three influential Republican members of Congress unveiled a comprehensive proposal on Wednesday to replace President Obama's health care overhaul with an alternative that would halt the expansion of Medicaid and scale back subsidies for middle-income people to buy private insurance.
The plan, drafted with encouragement from Republican leaders in the Senate and the House, would retain some consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, but would reduce federal regulation of insurance policies. States would have more authority to specify the "essential health benefits" that must be provided by insurance. As an example, the federal government would no longer require insurance policies to include coverage for maternity care.
Read the full article here.
Without commenting on the merits of the Republican proposal, the fact that there is at least some kind of alternative plan to discuss will be helpful to reform as a whole. It will spark new ideas and directions for health reform, or it will solidify the position of the ACA and dispel some of the misgivings, either of which advances the discussion. Until now, the Republican position on health reform has largely been: "I don't know, just not the Affordable Care Act."