Maybe Jindal backs the Dems’ plan, too

MAYBE JINDAL BACKS THE DEMS’ PLAN, TOO…. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) had an op-ed on health care policy yesterday, making the conservative case for reform. We talked a bit yesterday about the ways in which Jindal, who declared the end of the debate on reform, is confused about public opinion.

But let’s take a closer look at the substance here. Jindal presented a 10-point agenda, which he argued would “increase the affordability and quality of health care,” and would “offer a path forward toward significant bipartisan reform.”

Timothy Stoltzfus Jost scrutinized several of the specific ideas in Jindal’s 10-point plan, and found them familiar.

First he calls for purchasing pools to allow individuals and small businesses to get better deals on health insurance — that is precisely what the exchanges are, which have been in the bill since the beginning.

Second, portability. Allowing individuals and small groups to purchase through the exchanges with affordability subsidies allows people to continue to be insured when the leave their jobs without undermining our employment-based insurance system. Requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions? Has Jindal read any of the legislation, or listened to the news about it for the past 6 months? Transparency and payment reform — that’s in the bills as well. Indeed, what Jindal is really talking about here is comparative effectiveness research. He needs to have a talk with his fellow Republicans who have been railing against CER as a devious government plot.

Electronic medical records? They are part of this bill and were in the ARRA as well…. Reward healthy lifestyle choices? Again, read the bills, which do provide incentives for wellness and prevention. Cover young adults on their parents policies? Have you read any of the legislation? This is in the Senate HELP bill. Tax credits to purchase health insurance? That is the whole point of the affordability credits. The only issue raised by Jindal not already in the bill is that old Republican whipping horse, tort reform. Indeed, even this is in the Finance Committee bill.

Maybe we should include the Louisiana governor on the (growing) list of Republican who support Democratic health care reform plans?

Ezra Klein took a closer look at Jindal’s proposal and reached the same conclusion as Jost: “It’s a bit hard to ‘lead’ on health-care reform when your brand-new proposals are about to be passed by the other party…. At the beginning of his op-ed, Jindal laments that ‘a majority of so-called Republican strategists believe that health care is a Democratic issue.’ But the rest of his op-ed simply proves that they’re right.”

Keep a couple of relevant angles in mind here. First, Jindal is one of a small number of prominent Republican leaders who at least seems to take health care policy seriously — before seeking elected office, he spent nearly all of his career working on the issue — and considers himself a genuine “wonk.” When presenting specific ideas he thinks the GOP can get behind, Jindal ended up pointing to measures Democrats already support.

And second, this only helps reinforce the fact that Dems have embraced ideas that Republicans used to support, before they decided undermining the White House was their top priority.

Democrats, in other words, have already presented an approach that should enjoy bipartisan support. Jindal’s piece doesn’t present an alternative, so much as it reinforces the value of the Dems’ pitch.