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Bush would repeal ObamaCare, give more power to states

Bush would repeal ObamaCare, give more power to states
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Jeb Bush unveiled a plan on Tuesday to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with healthcare measures intended to give more authority to states.

Bush argued that his plan would empower local governments, help businesses and control costs.

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“Why not empower people when we have a chance? And I believe the states are the place where this will happen,” Bush said in a speech in New Hampshire. “Washington has had its day, it has had its chance to do these things and it has failed us miserably.”

Bush's plan would allow people to use the tax credits to buy cheaper plans that offer protection in case of “high-cost medical events.” This would differ from ObamaCare, in which people can get subsidies to buy comprehensive coverage.

Bush, who criticized ObamaCare for driving up costs, is touting his proposals as a more cost-conscious and responsible way of providing healthcare. Critics are likely to argue it will also cut off benefits, particularly for the poor.

The former Florida governor would offer the tax credits based on a consumer’s age, in contrast to ObamaCare’s credits that are based on income and give more assistance to low-income people.

“That should be the national focus, making sure people have catastrophic coverage so that their lives are not turned upside down by an adverse event that could have real devastation for their family,” Bush said. “Whatever else people want insurance to cover, they’ll be able to buy that, and we won’t force people to buy coverage they don’t want, either.”

ObamaCare, he said, forces high out-of-pocket expenses on consumers. He argued his plan would establish consumer health savings accounts as a way to pay for expenses.

Bush would also replace Medicaid, the health insurance system for the poor, with capped federal payments to states.

Each state would then have control over setting up a program to provide insurance for low-income people. Liberals tend to worry that the capped payments under such a system would reduce benefits.

Bush would also give states control over how to provide coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. For example, states could ensure people can maintain coverage once they already have it or establish “high-risk pools” in which people with pre-existing conditions can buy government-subsidized plans.

Bush acknowledges his plan would disrupt coverage for people who currently have plans through ObamaCare. The Obama administration says about 17 million people have insurance either through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, its expansion of Medicaid or by staying on a parent's plan until age 26.

To deal with that issue, Bush’s proposal calls on states to develop “a transition plan for the more than 17 million low-income individuals entangled in ObamaCare.”

The GOP presidential candidate did not provide a cost estimate for his plan.

Bush is the third GOP candidate to outline an ObamaCare-replacement plan.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) has outlined a replacement plan that also focused on tax credits, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has a plan to give block grants to states to provide insurance. Other candidates have not made clear the details of their plans.

Bush also called for increasing funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health, though he did not provide specifics.

Bush's plan would also provide new limits on the tax-free status of employer-sponsored plans, a measure aimed at curbing healthcare costs.

— This report was updated at 6:40 p.m.