At the last possible moment, House Republicans have unveiled their alternative health reform package. The proposal is a jumble of old ideas that does next to nothing to address the rising numbers of uninsured, provide health security to middle-income families, or prevent insurers from cherry-picking only healthy risk.

Republican leaders defended their proposal’s meager impact on reducing the number of uninsured by saying that it is only meant to reduce costs, but even on these terms it does less than the Affordable Health Care for America Act (the House leadership plan).

According to the nonpartisan CBO, the House Republican plan would reduce non-group premiums by about 5-8 percent. MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber recently analyzed CBO data on AHCA, and found that even for those purchasing coverage without a subsidy, the House plan would do better, reducing premiums by about 12 percent while simultaneously providing better benefits. For those eligible for subsidies, the reduction is of course much greater.

CBO also found that the Republican alternative would only cover about 3 million people—compared to 36 million covered by AHCA—and still manages to reduce the federal deficit less than AHCA does.

So minimal is the Republican plan when weighed against the challenges confronting our health care system that one analyst dubbed it “the dollar store version of health reform.”

Since the plan has no chance of passage, one has to wonder if the primary motivation for introducing it was to further delay CBO scoring of the Senate measure. By this criterion, at least, it can be judged a modest success.

–Michael Miller, Director of Strategic Policy