Jeb Bush’s health plan is out – and it is very good. Bush leads with fundamental reform of the Food and Drug Administration. “It should not cost $1.2 billion to $2.6 billion nor take 12 to 15 years to advance a medicine from discovery to patients, but that is the case under the Food and Drug Administration’s current regulatory mess.”
In recent weeks, we’ve read stories about drugs that have been around for decades, for which prices have been hiked sky-high. These price hikes are carried out by executives taking advantage of obscure FDA rules that impede competition.
Fortunately, if he is elected President, Bush can look forward to working with a Congress that has already invested significant political capital in regulatory reform. This spring, the House of Representatives approved the 21st Century Cures Act with bipartisan majorities. If enacted (with a tweak to its financing), it would improve the FDA in the direction Bush proposes.
As for health insurance, Bush’s proposal is similar to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s, offering a refundable tax credit to those without employer-based coverage. Walker has quit the race, so this leaves only Bush and Rubio as candidates who endorse a tax credit to finance coverage.
Bush’s tax credit would be based on the “average tax benefit” enjoyed by those who get coverage through their jobs. Bush does not estimate the dollar figure, which will require heavy number crunching. Nevertheless, it is a clever way to introduce tax fairness in health insurance without threatening employer-based benefits.
Bush would also cap the exclusion of employer-based health benefits from taxable income at $30,000 per family. This is reasonable limit to the traditionally open-ended exclusion, and much better than Obamacare’s punitive 40 percent excise tax (“Cadillac tax”) on high value employer-based plans, due to kick in in 2018.
All in all, a very credible proposal in a Republican presidential primary in desperate need of some health policy heft.