Governor Scot Walker’s presidential campaign got off to a fast start but has lost ground in recent polls. But his healthcare reform plan is gaining in popularity. Other candidates should take notice.
Jeffrey H. Anderson of The 2017 Project thinks Walker’s plan is “a political and policy winner.” But he also wants to set the record straight because others have mischaracterized the Walker plan. The Wall Street Journal editorial page described Walker’s proposal as much the same as the Burr – Coburn – Hatch plan released in the Senate last year.
Burr – Coburn – Hatch has been renamed Burr – Hatch – Upton with the retirement of Senator Tom Coburn and the addition of House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton. Like Walker’s alternative, it would not change the tax treatment of the typical person’s employer-provided insurance and therefore wouldn’t needlessly disrupt the employer-based market. Also, neither plan would neglect to deal with the poor and near-poor who have become newly insured under ObamaCare.
But there is where the similarities end.
Burr – Hatch – Upton would not repeal ObamaCare – Walker’s plan would. Burr – Hatch – Upton allows states to “auto-enroll” people in insurance plans they didn’t pick and sends taxpayers the bill – Walker’s plan doesn’t. Burr – Hatch – Upton uses means testing for its tax credits – Walker’s plan does not.
Burr – Hatch – Upton tax credits would cost half a trillion dollars more than Walker’s tax credits, according to scoring of identical tax credits proposed by The 2017 Project. Scoring by the non-partisan Center for Health and Economy (H & E) found that Burr – Hatch – Upton tax credits would save only $43 billion versus ObamaCare’s premium subsidies (from 2017 – 2024.) The 2017 Project/ Walker’s tax credits would save $572 billion (from 2016 – 2023) – more than ten times more.
There is more good news. Walker’s plan helps the middle class more. The typical 35 year-old single person making $37,000 a year, or 35 year-old married couple making a joint income of $65,000, would get the following:
- ObamaCare – $0
- Burr – Hatch – Upton – $0
- Walker – $2100 tax credit per person
If these 35 year-olds don’t itemize their tax deductions, they’ll still get the $2100 in the form of tax cuts. The single person will pay $2100 less and the married couple will pay $4200 less.
Federal Spending and Taxes
With Walker’s repeal of ObamaCare, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates a reduction in taxes of more than $1.1 Trillion from 2017 through 2025. Walker’s plan would actually cut taxes even below the pre-ObamaCare levels.
Walker’s plan also levels the playing field regarding the tax treatment of healthcare insurance. It would provide a tax break to individuals purchasing their health insurance (who currently get none) while leaving unaffected the tax treatment of most people’s employer-based insurance. This will revitalize the individual insurance market, which should lead to even lower premiums.
Walker’s plan also cuts federal spending by roughly $1.1 Trillion – based on H & E ‘s scoring of the very similar 2017 Project alternative.
Coverage of Pre-existing Medical Conditions
To solve the problem of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, Walker’s plan promises protection for those who lose continuous coverage. The plan calls for a “two month grace period”, during which they cannot be refused coverage if they purchase new health insurance. For those who have never had coverage, such as newborns and young adults leaving their parents’ plans, there would be a full year grace period.
The Walker Plan is very similar to the 2017 Project alternative, which Ed Gillespie promoted in his Senate campaign in Virginia in 2014 and nearly pulled off the upset victory of the election year. It is clearly a plan the voters liked.
Anderson summarizes the Walker plan:
“In short, Walker’s alternative would provide overdue tax-relief for the middle class, cut federal spending and taxes by 13 figures apiece, and provide commonsense protections for those with preexisting conditions. It’s a political and policy winner.”
We can only hope that other Republican candidates will join Governor Walker in promoting this excellent alternative to ObamaCare. It is a winner for the Republican platform and for the American people.