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Conservatives Promote Health Care Reform Substitute

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Paul Broun is reintroducing as an alternative to the health care law a sweeping, market-based repeal-and-replace bill that he first proposed in the 111th Congress.

Amid constitutional challenges, the Obama administration has now asked the Supreme Court to weigh in — raising the prospect of a high court ruling in the middle of the 2012 elections. And Congress’ appetite for budget cutting, including the Congressional super committee’s charge to propose by late November a series of steps to slash more than a trillion dollars from the deficit, have put the Affordable Care Act back on the table.

“There’s an enormous amount of focus on what might come out of the super committee,” said Wootton, whose group has called on that panel to freeze implementation of the health care law as a means of cutting spending.

Partnership for America will unveil its health care plan sometime this fall, Wootton said, and the organization has held numerous briefings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and with GOP presidential candidates. Until now, much of the GOP focus on Capitol Hill has been on health care politics or on repealing the Affordable Care Act, Wootton acknowledged.

“We wanted to focus on policy and on whether or not there were attractive policies that would be supported by what could be loosely called the center-right coalition of voters in the country,” Wootton said.

It’s too early to outline plan specifics, organizers said. But given some of its allies in the effort — including the American Enterprise Institute — the plan is likely to emphasize markets and incentives over government mandates and would shift decision-making power from the federal to the state level.

“There would be no individual mandate in our proposal,” said Partnership for America’s policy director, James Capretta, who also serves as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “And yet there would be all of the security and broadened insurance coverage that the public is actually looking for.”

Some on Capitol Hill are already moving in the group’s direction. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) this month introduced legislation to halt implementation of the health care law, dubbed the Freeze and Investigate Affordable Care Act. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is reintroducing a sweeping, market-based repeal-and-replace law that he first proposed in the 111th Congress.

“We’re very hopeful that my bill will be considered by the new White House that we’re going to put in place in 2013,” Broun said in an interview.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has also suggested replacing health care tax breaks for employers with refundable tax credits for individuals to buy insurance.

In the meantime, the GOP presidential candidates are also gearing up to flesh out their policy platforms, intensifying calls for a concrete, conservative health care reform plan.

“Clearly, the presidential campaign is beginning to heat up, and that dynamic in and of itself means that a lot of people on the Hill are looking to the presidential candidates to define what policy positions are going to get national acceptance,” Wootton said.

Other groups involved in the project include the Galen Institute, a free-market health care think tank, and the American Action Forum, a conservative policy institute that counts ex-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) among its board members.

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