Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Proposes Alternative to Affordable Care Act

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Plan Would Cap Employers’ Tax Break, End Coverage Mandate.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, trying to distinguish himself from other potential presidential candidates, outlined a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that he said would expand health coverage to more Americans by making insurance more affordable.

Mr. Jindal’s proposal comes as some in the GOP argue that the party, by offering its own health plan, will distract voter attention from Republican criticism of the president’s health law. Other Republicans say the GOP, having called for repealing the 2010 law, should offer its own alternative.

Mr. Jindal’s plan sets him apart from other GOP governors trying to build national profiles, most of whom shy away from joining Washington policy debates and instead draw attention to their work within their states.

It also shows his determination to be a leading policy foil to President Barack Obama. He released his health plan a day after the president declared the debate over the Affordable Care Act “over” and said the administration had met its goal of signing up seven million people for insurance during the initial open-enrollment phase.

“It’s no secret,” Mr. Jindal, 42 years old, said of a potential 2016 campaign. “I’ve said it’s something I’m thinking about. But right now, I’m focused on winning the war of ideas.”

Mr. Jindal’s health plan, released at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, would create a grant program giving states incentives to find ways to lower premium costs while guaranteeing access to insurance for people with existing conditions. Mr. Jindal says the grant money, $100 billion over 10 years, would be raised by making changes to medical-malpractice law and from other sources.

Mr. Jindal, a health official in the George W. Bush administration, also draws on familiar Republican ideas, such as expanding health-savings accounts, that he says would lower health costs.

The plan has similarities to a recent proposal from Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Both plans place a cap on the tax break that employers receive for offering health insurance to their employees. Workers would have to pay taxes on any employer premium payments above that limit.

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