(Bloomberg Politics) — Carly Fiorina wants to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and establish a health care plan of her own. But the centerpiece of her proposal, outlined on Monday after she announced her presidential campaign, has been attempted by House Republicans in recent years, and gone nowhere.
“Obamacare needs to be repealed,” Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who is seeking the Republican nomination, told reporters on a conference call. “The law itself is longer than a Harry Potter novel.”
In its stead, Fiorina called for increasing federal aid to states. “I think the answer here is to allow states to administer high-risk pools to help those who are truly needy,” she said. “Certainly I think the federal government can assist in funding.”
It sounds simple enough: Have the feds subsidize state-run insurance programs for the Americans who need medical care the most and who don’t have proper access. Numerous Republican presidential hopefuls have championed high-risk pools, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
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The problem is, it’s extremely expensive—so expensive that House Republicans have balked at spending a small fraction of the necessary money.
A “comprehensive set of high-risk pool programs” would cost between $150 billion and $200 billion over a decade, conservative health policy experts James C. Capretta and Tom Miller estimated in a 2010 issue of National Affairs.
Republican leaders have been down this road before. In April 2013, then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia tried to pass legislation authorizing a total of $3.7 billion for high-risk pools by cutting money from a PPACA program. But conservative Republicans rebelled and forced him to pull the bill because, as Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador argued at the time, “Subsidizing health care is not what Republicans should be about.”
“High-risk pools are not a new idea,” said Tim Jost, a health policy expert at Washington and Lee University School of Law. “It’s one of those chestnuts that has been around forever, but just keeps coming back.”