photo: by Niemster (flickr)

The Republican party has long claimed to have a “repeal and replace” strategy for Obamacare, but their plans have always been light on the “replace” part. To finally fill this policy void, the Republican Study Committee today put out their bill.

Not surprisingly the plan is mostly a combination of past Republicans proposals of dubious value. It would “reform” medical liability and put caps on non-economic damages. It would also allow insurance companies to sell across state lines.

The core of the proposal is a $7,500 individual and $20,000 for family standard deduction for health insurance, which would apply to both employer provided and individually purchased insurance. In itself this is not a terrible idea but becomes extremely problematic when combined with the other parts of the bill. You need a well-regulated individual marketplace for this to work well.

A standard deduction would encourage healthy people to stop taking insurance from their employer and encourage employers to stop offering it. This would push many Americans into now a very poorly regulated individual market, where the sick would have a tough time finding affordable coverage.

In fairness, the RSC makes some effort to address this problem by putting a few billion in state high risk pools and guaranteeing issue if you continuously maintain coverage — but a lot of people would fall through the cracks.

This is not a universal health care plan and would probably produce a worse system than the one we currently have.

Modern American conservatism has basically redefined itself to make any mechanism to get universal coverage incompatible with conservative principles. This plan is a reminder that conservatives don’t think providing everyone with affordable health care is a goal worth pursuing. They basically see all the cures as worse than the disease.