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Can the GOP Become the Party of Health Care with This Plan?

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

It’s the issue that has plagued the GOP: health care. The Democrats have done an excellent job scaring voters with baseless claims that Republicans will take away their health care. It’s a position they maximized in the messaging wars after the 2012 election and the landmark Obamacare decision from the Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement. By that point, millions of people would be enrolled, and any tweaks to the law would be seen as taking away people’s stuff—the ultimate election winner. The Democrats knew this law was here to stay. Even with the GOP saying for nearly a decade that it would repeal Obamacare, Republicans didn’t. The late Sen. John McCain’s thumbs down vote prior to his death from brain cancer was the nail in the coffin on this front.

Trump wasted valuable time trying to fix this law. Yet, as the saying goes, elections have consequences. The consequence of Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign was that our shot for a clean repeal was forever shut. I don’t like it—a lot of Tea Party supporters hate it as well. But that’s the reality. We had an election over this issue, and we lost. So, what to do now? Well, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus has doled out a survey with some 20,000 respondents in order to craft a policy that will hopefully be a rational third option pitched by the GOP. Philip Wegmann at RealClearPolitics wrote about it, where he referenced Trump declaring that the GOP will be the party of health care. Could this be the plan?

Enter billionaire Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot and personal friend of Trump.

Marcus has funded a survey of more than 20,000 patients and doctors, other health care providers and small-business owners to develop a framework for a plan that his network hopes congressional and administration Republicans will adopt in time for the election. A product of the conservative Job Creators Network and Physicians for Reform, the blueprint is touted as a personalized plan to compete with Obamacare and Medicare for All.

They call it “Healthcare for You,” and they plan to spend a quarter-million dollars just rolling it out.


According to literature reviewed by RealClearPolitics, the proposal is a grab bag of reforms aimed at restoring “the doctor-patient relationship” by:

  • Changing the way health insurance is bought and sold and regulated by allowing patients to purchase coverage across state lines while giving states more regulatory power.
  • Lowering drug prices by targeting exemptions that currently allow pharmaceutical middlemen to skirt federal anti-kickback laws.
  • Creating personal health management accounts, akin to existing health savings accounts, to allow patients to pay for insurance premiums or care with pre-tax dollars.
  • Targeting medical malpractice laws to better protect physicians from frivolous lawsuits and excessive awards.
  • Maintaining protections for pre-existing conditions.

Some aspects of this GOP prescription are of Tea Party vintage. Other proposals, like ending legal exemptions for middlemen, are already being pushed by the Trump administration. None of it is as easily packaged as the Medicare for All message being peddled by the 2020 Democratic field.

What is new about the Marcus plan? The depth of research behind it, proponents insist. “This research has literally never been done before, going to the American people like we did,” Elaine Parker, president of Job Creators Network Foundation, told RCP.

It’s a start. It’s certainly more grounded than Medicare for All, which is the flavor of the week for 2020 Democrats. And I don’t care what the polling says; it’s not popular. It’s not popular because the missing part of this whole discussion on single-payer is that private health insurance has to be destroyed. That’s around 150 million plans. So, Democrats have gone from the health care protector party to Thanos, destroyer of all things employer-based when it comes to health insurance. Oh, and it's no shock that voter support for Medicare for All drops like a rock when folks read the fine print.

Americans like their private, employer-based plans. And this scheme being pushed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is going to screw over union workers and their families—key blocs in the Democratic coalition. It’s projected to cost $50 trillion over the next decade, but only the rich will see their costs go up, not the working poor or middle class. No one believes that.

Yes, the attack from the Left will be that this is a ploy, spearheaded by a Trump supporter, to take away people’s health care. However, the GOP can now frame itself as the adult in the room who's trying to hash out a better policy rather than play to the left-wing tendencies of the rabid and unspooled progressive base of the Democratic Party. And there is a ‘confiscated stuff’ element here, but that all rests with the Democrats. They’re the party that’s not just debating whether or not they will take away millions of Americans’ health care plans, but when they will do it.


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