Study: Reversing Obamacare-Lite

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Abstract: This spring, after living under the costly failures of Obamacare-like health care legislation for two decades, the Maine Legislature enacted a set of patient-centered, market-based health care reforms. The Maine experience is both a warning of Obamacare’s likely effects and a practical demonstration to other states of how to enact sound free-market health care reforms in spite of Obamacare. Maine has also shown how much more it and other states could accomplish if not hamstrung by Obamacare and how Congress could chart a better course toward more innovative and effective health care reform.

Faced with the uncertainty surrounding Obamacare, legislators in many states have deferred action on health care reform, instead waiting for final resolution of the constitutional challenges making their way through the federal courts and the outcome of the 2012 elections. During their legislative sessions earlier this year, most states neither enacted Obamacare-enabling legislation nor advanced their own, alternative health care reform designs.

One notable exception is Maine, where a new Republican governor and legislative majorities charted a different course for health care reform. This spring, after living under the costly failures of Obamacare-like health care legislation for two decades, Maine’s new state leadership enacted a set of patient-centered, market-based health care reforms. In the process, they reversed a set of policies that mirrored key elements of Obamacare.

Thus, Maine’s experience is instructive for other states in two important respects. Maine’s past offers lessons on the likely adverse effects of Obamacare if fully implemented, and Maine’s new direction shows how to reverse and replace Obamacare with better patient-centered, market-based approaches. In sum, Maine offers other states and Congress a practical example of how to repeal and replace Obamacare with sound free-market health care reforms.