In a sign that the public is tiring of GOP efforts to repeal the health care law, the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks is pressing Republican leaders to go on the offense — double down on the repeal push while advocating conservative health care policies.
In a memo to House Republicans, the leaders of FreedomWorks, including former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, suggest that the public is souring on repeal because the GOP lacks a coherent set of reforms with which to “replace” the health care law.
“We’re sending this memo because we believe your ultimate success depends as much on how you handle the “replace” as the “repeal” side of the strategy. We think it’s time to start emphasizing what you’re for as much as what you’re against,” the memo reads.
The results are pretty amusing. FreedomWorks advises the GOP to pursue familiar Republican policies: health savings accounts, opt-outs for Medicare, portability of insurance across state lines. But the group also advises GOP leaders not to fall into the trap of banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
“Banning preex condition clauses is counterproductive, because it raises premiums and causes coverage to be dropped,” the memo reads. “It’s also unnecessary, because federal and state laws already offer significant protections, and there are (as we just noted) better ways to help the small group (1 percent) of Americans who face a genuine barrier.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (which, under Obama, has a vested interest in overstating this figure) claims that up to half of all Americans have pre-existing conditions as defined by insurance companies, and could be denied coverage, or face carve-outs in coverage from their policies.
Interestingly, the memo advises Republicans to play hardball with their industry allies who support the law or are on the fence about it. If an industry wants a provision repealed, the GOP shouldn’t work with them unless that industry backs full repeal.
“Don’t repeal the IPAB rationing board, or reduce any of the various Obamacare taxes, unless the affected industries endorse full repeal,” the memo reads. “Don’t re-fund Medicare Advantage unless the health insurance lobby publicly endorses full repeal. If you do cut any of the Obamacare taxes, look to Obamacare itself as the source of offsets (for example, by delaying the effective dates of the subsidies and Medicaid expansion).”
You can read the entire memo here.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.