By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

 

Congress has one final chance to replace Obamacare this year, and it should seize the opportunity.

The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill , named after its four Senate sponsors, is actually the result of an effort spearheaded by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., whose central insight for the bill was drawn from the single most successful domestic-policy reform of the past half-century.

Santorum knows what he’s doing: He was the Senate floor manager of that huge success story, the bill that reformed the nation’s largest welfare program in 1996. Using rough numbers, that law cut welfare rolls nearly in half, saved federal taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 20 years, actually sent more aid to truly-needy individuals, and helped cut the poverty rate significantly.

While that welfare-reform law had plenty of features, two were most significant. One was a work requirement for recipients – something not directly applicable to healthcare, except for its Medicaid component. The other, the structural one, eliminated the federal government’s operational bureaucracy by block-granting the program’s funds back to the states, while giving the states broad freedom to design their own plans for how to use those monies.

It is that latter structural reform that forms the template for GCHJ. While repealing the philosophically objectionable individual- and employer mandates and expanding money for Health Savings Accounts (another successful idea first introduced in the 1990s by Santorum), GCHJ provides states ample financing while largely leaving them free to tailor their own healthcare policies.

The amount of the block grants would still grow over time, but not as fast as federal healthcare spending has been growing under Obamacare. But because the states would know and understand the formula in advance, and because they would have such freedom to use those funds in creative ways to expand coverage with less bureaucratic overhead, the results would probably match the triumphs of the 1996 welfare reform….

[The full column is here.]

 

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