Examiner Editorial: How GOP Congress can replace Obamacare 

If voters return Republicans to majorities in one or both houses of Congress, Job One for the GOP will be to start the process of repealing Obamacare and replacing it with realistic health care reforms that make universal access possible at a reasonable cost without putting federal bureaucrats in charge of U.S. medicine.

President Barack Obama will surely veto even a simple repeal measure, but Republicans still should put an end to Obamacare’s most-damaging and least-popular provisions by defunding them. The process will force Obamacrats in Congress to cast multiple votes they would probably prefer to avoid, thus setting the stage for a titanic 2012 presidential election contest.

To that end, here are The Examiner’s recommendations to GOP congressional leaders for how to approach this most vital issue. This page will feature our recommendations to the new Congress on other major issues throughout this week:

Bureaucracy: Every year, Congress passes appropriations provisions that forbid the use of funds for certain purposes. Next year’s spending bills should bar the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies from establishing the 159 boards, panels and programs in Obamacare. The Treasury appropriations bill should likewise remove all authority from the Internal Revenue Service for enforcing Obamacare’s tax provisions.

Stop medical lawsuit abuse: Trial lawyers kept medical tort reform out of Obamacare despite the fact that such provisions could save at least $200 billion in unnecessary annual health care costs. Trial lawyers made sure Obamacare did include provisions encouraging state attorneys general to outsource litigation against health care providers to ambulance-chasing trial lawyers. The new Congress should put tort reform into health care reform and take the trial lawyers out of it.

Abortion funding: Congress can and should also permanently bar Obamacare from ever using federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Not using tax dollars to pay for abortions is one of the few measures on which opponents and defenders of the procedure agree, but more is required to make the ban more effective than a meaningless presidential executive order. 

Burdens on small businesses: Congress should quickly challenge Obama to veto legislation repealing the Obamacare requirement that small businesses fill out and file a 1099 form for every vendor with whom they have significant dealings.

Wheelchair tax: Do Obamacrats really want to face a 2012 re-election campaign after voting to tax someone’s wheelchair? We don’t think so.

Employer mandate: However it is ultimately replaced, the new health care reform to come should end the tax breaks that make employers the main source of health care insurance coverage. All Americans should have access to good health care insurance without fear that they will be denied because of prior conditions. And they should be able to get their coverage from the provider they choose, wherever it is located.

Individual mandate: Obamacare may be the first federal law in U.S. history that requires every American to purchase a commercial product under penalty of law. If the U.S. Supreme Court has not already declared Obamacare’s individual mandate unconstitutional, Congress should repeal it.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare must be done carefully and without undue haste. These recommendations are only the first steps, but they are the essential elements for all that follows.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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