Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) released his proposal Wednesday to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as he makes moves to be seen as a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
The 26-page "Freedom and Empowerment Plan" critiques President Barack Obama's health care reform law and lays out Jindal's vision for a conservative alternative, just a day after Obama declared that the law is "here to stay." Jindal's plan was released through America Next, an advocacy nonprofit he chairs.
In a Wednesday op-ed for Fox News, Jindal introduced his plan, arguing that it gives states incentives to reduce health care costs and lower premiums. To have a chance at becoming law, Jindal's plan would have to be introduced in Congress.
In a preview of the proposal, Jindal argued that the Republican Party must do more than simply oppose the Affordable Care Act. The governor has rejected an Obamacare-related expansion of Medicaid in the state, which would have covered more than 200,000 Louisianans.
“This is the first in a series of policies I will offer through America Next over the course of this year,” Jindal told The Washington Post. “I absolutely think the country deserves a debate, and if Republicans are going to succeed, we better have more than bumper stickers.”
The plan includes a number of staples of conservative thinking on health care reform. It would create a “global grant program” to radically alter Medicaid by giving states block grants, releasing states from being required to provide certain benefits. It would also allow insurance to be sold across state lines and would promote “health savings accounts."
In addition, Jindal's plan would essentially privatize Medicare by converting it to a "premium support" system in which the government gives those patients in the program money to buy coverage from private health plans.
In a nod to social conservatives, the plan would make the Hyde amendment, which bars the federal funding of heath insurance plans that cover abortion, permanent.
The governor has a history of professional engagement in health policy. He served as secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, staff director of a bipartisan Medicare commission and a senior adviser in President George W. Bush's Department of Health and Human Services.
Jindal is frequently cited as a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. In a February interview with The Huffington Post, the governor said he didn't know whether he would run, but he did say "all the attention on the horse race is foolish."