*Co-authored by James Lewis.
After months of repeal and replace rhetoric from Republicans on the Affordable Care Act with no replacement option, three Senators have finally broken the ice and shown America what Republicans would replace the plan with: more taxes.
Senators Burr (NC), Coburn (OK) and Hatch (UT) have authored the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment (Patient CARE) Act -- or GOPCare -- claiming it is a better option.
This is the first time Republicans have offered a solution to the addressing America's health that has been under repair since passage of the Affordable Care Act.
During her response to the president's State of the Union, Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers agreed that the pre-Affordable Care Act days were a bad place to be: "No, we shouldn't go back to the way things were."
Instead, GOPCare offers a situation that is worse by raising the taxes of working Americans.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employer-provided health care insurance is an untaxed benefit. Should the Republicans manage to pass GOPCare, everyone would be paying taxes on those benefits.
Bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel estimates for the New York Times that a family of four making around $150,000 per year would pay nearly $1,500 in additional taxes under GOPCare. For a party that claims anti-tax opposition to the Affordable Care Act, that principle clearly does not matter when it is their proposal.
The proposal offered by Senators Burr, Coburn and Hatch also does not include an absolute prohibition of pre-existing condition discrimination by insurance companies, a remarkably popular provision. A March 2013 poll by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found 66 percent of Americans favor this element of the Affordable Care Act.
The GOPCare proposal would also limit another popular Affordable Care Act provision: Medicaid expansion. The same Kaiser poll found 71 percent of Americans favor Medicaid expansion, which is now a reality in 26 states and Washington, DC. The GOPCare proposal would eliminate the expansion for childless adults.
It is surprising to see Senator Hatch lining up to end Medicaid expansion given Utah's Republican Governor, Gary Herbert, will expand the state's Medicaid program with federal resources provided under the Affordable Care Act.
While GOPCare limits Medicaid, it does nothing to help individuals it would kick out of the program, until they have children or get older. The tax credit program under the Affordable Care Act that expands based on income and age would only expand based on age under GOPCare.
Under GOPCare, it is good that the tax credit program is based on age because older Americans will need it.
Per the Affordable Care Act, an insurance company cannot charge someone that is 64 years old more than three times what they charge a 21-year-old. GOPCare would allow that to grow to five times, a huge jump as individuals prepare for a retirement on a fixed income.
GOPCare would also oust the free prevention care provision.
It is clear this plan is not the result of America's popular opinion about the Affordable Care Act but rather a response by corporate campaign donors.
About the only popular provision of the Affordable Care Act the Senators kept for GOPCare was the ability for young people under the age of 26 to remain on their parents' insurance program.
The more one looks at GOPCare, the more it looks like GOP-Corporate-Care and less like a solution to America's healthcare crisis that the Affordable Care Act has gone a long way to solve.
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