It’s battle of the governors on healthcare.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rolled out a new healthcare plan on Tuesday, and almost immediately after he did Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came out guns-a-blazing against it, calling it an expansive new entitlement program that centralizes power in Washington, D.C. creating a new giant entitlement program. It’s already so heated that Jindal is challenging Walker to a debate on the issue, something Walker’s team hasn’t responded to.
Walker’s plan, titled the “Day One Patient Freedom Plan: My Plan To Repeal And Replace Obamacare,” is 9 pages long—15 counting full-page graphics—and has five major planks. First, he says, “repeal ObamaCare in its entirety.”
Second is Walker wants to “ensure affordable and accessible health insurance for everyone.”
Third is he wants to “make health care more efficient, effective and accountable by empowering
the states.” Fourth, Walker wants to “increase quality and choice through innovation.” And fifth, Walker says, the government needs to “provide financial stability for families and taxpayers.”
It’s the second part of the plan that Jindal, who’s already released his own alternative to Obamacare, takes issue with.
On page 9 of Walker’s plan, under part two section B, Walker calls for tax credits for people to pay for their healthcare plans. The section header reads: “PROVIDE TAX CREDITS TO ANYONE WITHOUT EMPLOYER-SPONSORED HEALTH INSURANCE.”
“My plan would provide refundable tax credits to individuals who do not have employer-based coverage to make health insurance more affordable and more portable. This would strengthen health insurance markets by enabling individuals to use their tax credits to buy insurance outside the workplace,” Walker writes.
For example, a 35-year-old woman who makes $35,000 per year and has no children gets $0 in ObamaCare subsidies–she’s too young and too middle class. Under my plan, this same woman would receive a $2,100 tax credit that she could use to shop for insurance in the open market and put any savings into a health savings account.
Tax credits will level the playing field between those who purchase coverage through an employer and those who purchase it on the open market, expanding options and lowering costs for health plans offered outside the workplace. This would ensure people are not locked into their current jobs just to maintain health insurance coverage and give people the flexibility to switch employers or even careers.
The value of the tax credit would depend on the age of the recipient, as shown in the table below. Tax credits would be available to anyone without employer-based coverage. And the credits would not be based on individual or family income, so there would be no intrusive oversight by the IRS and no accountant needed to determine the credit amount.
Walker then lays out in a table graph exactly how the tax credits would break down. For those from birth to age 17, they’d get a $900 credit from the federal government, ages 18-34 would get $1,200, 35-49 would get $2,100 and 50-64 would get $3,000.
“Unlike the disruption caused by ObamaCare, my plan would allow for a smooth, easy transition into a better health care system,” Walker writes.
The tax credits would put money directly in consumers’ pockets to use as they shop for the health care plan that works best for them. Unlike ObamaCare policies that give subsidies to insurance companies, these tax credits belong to consumers. They would enable individuals and families to quickly and easily evaluate their options and make informed choices about their own health care.
Jindal is furious with this aspect of Walker’s healthcare plan, saying his 2016 rival just endorsed the “underpinning” of Obamacare and creates a “cradle to grave” entitlement program.
“In a health care plan that is light on specifics, Governor Walker endorsed the fundamental underpinning of Obamacare – the notion that America needs another entitlement program,” Jindal criticized Walker’s plan.
In Governor Walker’s plan, a new entitlement is created for every single American human being from the time they are born right up until they grow old and become eligible for Medicare. It is frankly shocking that a Republican candidate for President would author a cradle to grave plan like this. Governor Walker has taken the bait laid out for him by the President, and has accepted the notion that we need a new federal government entitlement program, and now he is merely quibbling over the details. So here we are again, not standing on free market principles, but rather, establishing ourselves as “cheaper Democrats.”
Jindal said that while Walker’s plan has some “good features,” it is problematic in that it represents “fundamentally accepting the premise of Obamacare – that we need a new federal entitlement program”—and he called Walker’s plan “Obamacare lite.”
“I think this may be what Jeb Bush was referring to when he said we need to be willing to lose the primary,” Jindal said. “Surely we as Republicans have more courage than this. Surely we can do better than simply producing our own versions of Obamacare lite.”
Jindal then laid out his own healthcare plan that he calls a “detailed conservative plan” that uses the free market—not the government—to drive down healthcare costs.
“In fact we can, I outlined a detailed conservative plan to repeal and replace Obamacare without a new federal entitlement program. My plan focuses on driving down the cost of health care by embracing free market reforms,” Jindal said.
And now for the real kicker – Governor Walker’s new entitlement plan is very Washington in that it fails to tell us what it will cost. It looks to me to be roughly $400 billion dollars a year. And we all know what that means, either raise taxes or add to the debt, which is so very Washington. When did conservatism die? When did we accept the idea of dependence on government? Governor Walker is confused here. In his stump speech he has some clever lines about how the Fourth of July is about independence, not dependence. I like those lines. But with this Obamacare lite health care proposal, he’s going to have to drop those lines from his speech.
Walker’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong, in response to Jindal’s statement, sent Breitbart News a quote that defends Walker’s plan but doesn’t respond to Jindal specifically.
“Governor Walker’s plan is getting rave reviews from the conservative movement for being a thoughtful, substantive, and viable plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare and make health care affordable and accessible for Americans,” Strong said. “The refundable health care tax credits the governor includes have been supported by many conservatives because they put health care decision making in the hands of the American people where it belongs.”
So, in response to that, Jindal’s spokeswoman Shannon Dirmann told Breitbart News that Governor Jindal is challenging Governor Walker to debate him on healthcare policy.
“There are many instances when a narrow tax credit could make sense — but Governor Walker’s plan is not that,” Dirmann said. “This is a new entitlement program for every American, and the plan doesn’t state how much it costs or how he will pay for it. That’s the Washington way. The Governor is happy to have this discussion in person with Governor Walker. He would debate him on health care any time.”
Walker’s team, thus far, has not responded to Jindal’s challenge for a healthcare debate.