MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush touted on Tuesday his plan to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health care law with one that would increase tax credits for individuals, allowing them to buy coverage protection against "high-cost medical events."
"I won't accept the straw man argument that the opposite of Obamacare is no care," Bush said during a speech in New Hampshire.
Bush's proposal would give more power to the states to regulate health insurance and repeal insurance mandates contained in the law. He told reporters his proposal would result in roughly the same number of insured Americans as the Affordable Care Act. He said he expects more people will drop their plans under the president's health care law as premiums increase.
His plan does guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions, which is a key component of Obama's landmark overhaul of the nation's health care system.
Bush said his plan, in broad terms, would accomplish three goals: promote innovation, lower costs and return power to states. And he slammed Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Rodham Clinton for supporting the Affordable Care Act.
"They like the power of deciding these things from up above," Bush said.
Under Bush's plan, individuals could get higher tax credits for purchasing health insurance and would be allowed higher contribution limits on health savings accounts for out-of-pocket expenses. He also would overhaul the regulations imposed by the Food and Drug Administration to help spur innovation in the health care industry and would put limits on malpractice lawsuits. And he would put caps on federal payments to states and create a roughly 18-month "transition plan" for 17 million people "entangled" in the Affordable Care Act to move into new policies.
Bush also proposes to limit the tax-free status of employer-provided health insurance, an idea labor unions fiercely oppose. His plan would give power to the states to design Medicaid programs and increase funding for the National Institutes of Health.
Bush took no questions from the audience or reporters following his speech, and some audience members were left looking for more specifics.
Donna Sytek, a former New Hampshire House speaker who is considering supporting Bush, said she doesn't understand how Bush's plan would work financially if people are able to cherry pick what services they want their coverage to include.
"I want to know more detail — how do you make it work actuarially?" she said.
James Flathers, a long-time Republican voter who has Parkinson's disease, said the president's health care law was a financial savior when he had to switch jobs. Flathers said he is skeptical of Republican plans to repeal the law and wanted more details about how Bush's plan would work.
"I think it would crush people like me," he said.
Bush and his GOP presidential rivals are united in their calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act, but have been unable to find agreement on what should replace it.
Experts say any plan to repeal the federal mandates and reduce insurance subsidies under the current law would increase the number of uninsured.
The number of people without health insurance coverage declined to 33 million in 2014, down from 42 million in 2013, according to the latest Census figures.
Bustos reported from Miami.
This story corrects that experts say such a plan would increase, rather than reduce, the number of uninsured.