Do Republican Presidential candidates have any good ideas on health care?

Republicans have done a good job attacking the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and I’ve criticized their criticisms for being largely cheap shots and inaccuracies. John McCain’s health care proposals weren’t credible in the 2008 campaign and there has been little in the way of intelligent discourse from the GOP on Capitol Hill.

Now that the 2012 Republican primary campaign is in full swing, a new batch of candidates is having a go at health care policy. Unlike in 2008 when health care wasn’t a big part of the GOP primary campaign, it is an issue in 2012. In general the candidates have not set out full-blown health care policies, but Kaiser Health News has started tracking candidates’ positions, which are summarized here.

There are a lot of bad and just plain silly ideas on the list –mainly from Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry– but I also found some thoughts that make sense and that are not being voiced by Democrats. Here’s what I found encouraging:

  • Ron Paul proposes cutting other programs to fund Medicare for current retirees while weaning younger people off the program over time
  • Paul also agrees that the Medicare Part D drug benefit –passed by Republicans under President Bush– was a mistake
  • Jon Hunstman supported a progressive health reform plan when he was Governor of Utah, which included an insurance exchange
  • Mitt Romney led reform in Massachusetts and deep down knows that it formed the basis for PPACA, even if he won’t admit it publicly

So there you have it: at least some basis for an intelligent debate if the electorate is ready to hear it. I’m hoping to see some serious ideas being bandied about.

August 29, 2011

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