NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — There’s only one way Republicans will pass an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and it doesn’t involve the media or a return to the pre-2010 system.
“It’s really important that everybody set aside their small differences so that they can rally around the big issue,” Jim Capretta, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said.
For a repeal of the Affordable Care Act to work, Republicans need to unify on a single solution and present it as an alternative to Obamacare, Capretta and fellow panelists at the Conservative Political Action Conference said Thursday.
“We can do it without a 2,000-page law,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said. “We can do it without a government takeover. And we can do it without all of these incredible negative side-effects of the current healthcare law.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., another panelist, said that while mainstream media wasn’t with the Republicans in 1980, 1984, 2000, 2010 or 2014, the American people were — and still are — on the issue of healthcare. The three panelists urged the crowd to spread the message to their friends and family, and Blackburn cited a Gallup poll which said just 40 percent of the public and 27 percent of conservatives trust the mass media.
“I have my pet names for those news networks that people are listening to every single night,” Blackburn said. “Do y’all want to hear them?
“ABC, all about Clinton news network,” Blackburn said. “NBC is the nothing but Clinton news network. CNN is the Clinton news network. And poor old CBS — they did it to themselves — the Clinton BS network.”
As an alternative to Obamacare, Barrasso advocated for a policy that gives more choice and flexibility to consumers and states. He believes across-the-board coverage didn’t work for families.
“It was Washington telling the people of Wyoming what they needed because, of course, the president thought he knew better than the folks at home,” he said.
Blackburn said she supported a plan that would give consumers more choice and hopefully lower costs, criticizing the subsidies that many consumers are now repaying though lower tax refunds. She also said she wants more patient choice in the healthcare purchase process.
“Let’s empower the patients and individuals to control their money and control their access and control that relationship,” Blackburn said. “A way to do that is legislation that I have worked on for six years: across-state-line purchase of health insurance. Open up the health insurance marketplace.”
The panelists said alternative ideas have varied, but a unified conservative alternative would likely be more successful.
“I think it’s pretty helpful if somebody who appears here this weekend is elected president in 2016,” Capretta said.
Reach reporter Allison Kite at [email protected] or 202-408-1491. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.