Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is determined to find a way back to the upper echelon of GOP presidential candidates for 2016 after finishing 10th among presidential contenders at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The Governor announced Wednesday that he has a health plan of his own to replace ObamaCare.
Jindal’s resume clearly shows he is well-equipped to tackle health care; he was secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals when still in his twenties, and later became the staff director of a bipartisan commission on the future of Medicare. Following that, he assumed the role of assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.
Jindal’s 26-page plan, called the “The Freedom and Empowerment Plan,” and published by the advocacy group America Next, would use block grants, or as he terms them, “global grant programs,” to give states a fixed amount of money without hamstringing them with federal rules requiring them to offer certain benefits. He also wants to jettison the tax preference for employer-based insurance, as well as let health coverage be available to customers across state line. Jindal’s plan hearkens back to his 1990’s days on the Medicare commission by suggesting older Americans utilize a system known as “premium support.” Unlike the present practice of seniors being trapped in a system where the government sets prices and pays the seniors’ bills, Jindal would require the government to give the seniors the money seek the most competitive price among private health plans.
Jindal asserted, “There is a void out there. Consider this plan open-source code for Republicans, who are welcome to cut and paste from it.”
Jindal said last month in New Hampshire that he had no plans to run for president; saying, “The answer is I have no plans at this time to run. I’ve made that clear, and I will come here again and again to the state of New Hampshire to make that clear.”
Yet others are not ruling it out; Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax reform said, “Competing with Walker’s high-profile fight against organized labor, Christie’s name identification, Jeb’s last name and Rand Paul’s youth appeal won’t be easy. But if you look at what Jindal is doing, he’s becoming one of the five or six guys who could be taken seriously.” Charlie Black, a former campaign adviser to Sen. John McCain, said,
“It’s early, but this is a good time for him to show how he belongs with the rest of those names.” Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for George W. Bush, asked, “Could he raise the money? Could he break through a crowded pack of candidates? Considering how wide open the Republican race is looking, I think he could, but those are the questions.”
Jindal explained, “This is the first in a series of policies I will offer through America Next over the course of this year. I absolutely think the country deserves a debate, and if Republicans are going to succeed, we better have more than bumper stickers.”