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Factsheet #80 on Health Care, Obamacare and Medicaid/SCHIP

March 3, 2011

The Wyden-Brown Proposal: Does Not Fix the Problems of Obamacare

The Wrong Answer to Obamacare

  • Wyden-Brown: Senators Ron Wyden (D–OR) and Scott Brown (R–MA) have introduced a health care proposal that is a Trojan horse to a single-payer system doubling down on the mistakes of Obamacare. President Obama has endorsed the plan, saying it adds “flexibility” to his system. This is simply not the case.
  • Repeal? The Patient Protection and Affordability Act (Obamacare) is more than 2,000 pages long. There is no way America can achieve a consumer-based health care system with this flawed law in place. The Wyden–Brown proposal does not repeal one page of the law or change its direction.
  • A Shell Game: Wyden–Brown simply changes a date on an existing “state innovation” provision of Obamacare from 2017 to 2014—still well after the federal Obamacare infrastructure has been cemented in place.
  • Really a Bill to Speed-Up Single-Payer Health Care: In essence, the Wyden–Brown proposal is simply a back-door vehicle for progressive states to enact the “public option” and speed up the establishment of a single-payer system for health care. White House health care advisors Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter stressed in a conference call to liberal advocates that the bill would help states implement single-payer health care plans, such as those tested in Connecticut and Vermont.

A Medicaid Monster

Obamacare’s Problems Remain

  • Regulatory Mess Remains: The federal takeover of health care financing and delivery is untouched by the Wyden–Brown bill. The proposal only loosens a few select provisions: the individual and employer mandates and certain provisions relating to the exchanges and subsidies. However, it does not loosen the new regulations controlling health insurance that will lock states into guaranteeing costly benefits they cannot afford to sustain. For example, states must still offer coverage that is “at least as comprehensive” as the federally mandated, essential-benefits package.
  • “Mother May I” Approach to State Health Care Reform: Obamacare already empowers the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to control the financing and delivery of the nation’s health care. Under the Wyden–Brown proposal, ultimate approval of state experiments still rests with the Secretary.
  • Waiver for You, No Waiver for You: Already, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has arbitrarily issued hundreds of special-interest waivers to companies and unions that have said Obamacare is too costly to implement. Under the Wyden–Brown bill, states would be at the mercy of the Secretary to receive this waiver. So ultimately, the federal government still has the final word over the states.
  • Ignores Immediate State Medicaid Crisis: States are facing a budget crisis in large part because of Medicaid. The Wyden–Brown proposal provides no new flexibility or exemptions for dealing with Medicaid mandates. According to a recent study by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, Obamacare will push $118 billion in additional Medicaid costs on states through 2023. States don’t need more mandates and bureaucratic red tape. They need fundamental Medicaid reform.

Get Health Care Reform Right at the State Level

  • States Must Reclaim Their Authority: The recent ruling by federal Judge Roger Vinson that Obamacare is unconstitutional provides the states even more reason to push ahead with state-level health care reforms. They should advance reforms that take the health care system in a better direction—one based on the free-market principles of consumer choice and market competition.

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