It’s incumbent on Democrats to finish health reform and finish reform right, but it’s also worth remembering that Republicans still have no health care plan.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama told lawmakers that if they had a health care plan that met his goals, they should speak up:

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we’ve proposed. There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Here’s what I ask of Congress, though: Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.

Predictably, House Republican minority leader John Boehner piped up and claimed that the Republican alternative health care bill his caucus offered last year when the House was passing their health care bill fit the requirements.

Of course, Boehner’s wrong. The bill doesn’t fit the requirements, not even close.

First, the plan, according to the CBO [pdf], doesn’t nearly cover the uninsured:

By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured.

Unlike the House plan Democrats passed, it doesn’t hold insurance companies accountable. It would still allow denials of care based on pre-existing conditions, and because these abuses aren’t reigned in, premiums for the sickest Americans will skyrocket.

The Republican "alternative" also saves less money, because it fails to really tackle the health care crisis.

Democrats still must finish the job right, but judging by the ideas Republicans have offered thus far, they’ll have to proceed on their own.

(also posted at the NOW! blog)

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Jason Rosenbaum

Jason Rosenbaum

Writer, musician, activist. Currently consulting for Bill Halter for U.S. Senate and a fellow at the New Organizing Institute.

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