Jindal wants to shape health care debate

Gov. shares analysis of Affordable Care Act

Gov. Bobby Jindal made his case Tuesday for shaping debate in the midterm elections by offering conservatives a stinging analysis of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Jindal — a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — released his policy document just hours after news broke that he is headed to New Hampshire in September. Jindal will sample chili and rub shoulders with Republican women on the same farm that Mitt Romney chose as the backdrop for the kickstart of his 2012 White House bid.

The governor told Time magazine that any decision about running for president will come after Thanksgiving. The magazine writer marveled at Jindal’s “oversized New Orleans Saints belt buckle” and “thick Cajun drawl.”

For now, Jindal’s focus is on talking points that had national political reporters tripping over themselves Tuesday on who got them first. Jindal offered glossy graphics and poll numbers to use on the campaign trail to deride the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Jindal estimates that health insurance premiums grew by $1.2 trillion because Obama missed the mark on lowering costs. By his math, the average family premium for employer-sponsored coverage has increased by $3,671 since 2008.

The governor blames a fundamental flaw in the health care law: The legislation focused on implementing universal coverage instead of reducing the hit on taxpayers’ wallets.

“For some, the idea of repealing and replacing Obamacare has been nothing more than a political talking point. But in reality, replacing Obamacare with a far better alternative is crucial for the health of the American economy and the literal health of the American people. Whether Obamacare is replaced next year, or in five years, we must have a replacement, which effectively attacks and solves the biggest problem: cost. Yes, access is vitally important, but the only way to effectively increase access is to make health care affordable. Much attention has been focused on the president’s deceptive pledges that you can keep your plan and your doctor. But the real damage is in his false pledge that Obamacare would lower costs,” the governor wrote.

For Jindal, it’s take 2 on national health care policy. Earlier this year, America Next released his pitch for an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. His ideas include creating a $100 billion, 10-year pool of federal funding to allow states to provide subsidies for health insurance. The subsidies would target families of four getting by on $35,775 or less a year.

His memorandum Tuesday features graphics and key findings. Polling numbers were provided by OnMessage, the political consulting firm that employs the governor’s chief adviser, Timmy Teepell. OnMessage called 1,200 people in March.

A few of the poll’s findings:

  • Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act 54 percent to 42 percent.
  • Democrats’ advantage on securing voters’ trust in making health care decisions is eroding, although 28 percent still strongly trust Democrats.
  • The biggest concern is health care costs, edging out complaints about difficulty in getting quality health care and lack of health care coverage.

According to America Next, the message that should be taken away is that the average family is paying more in health care premium costs despite the president’s 2008 campaign promise to reduce those expenses.

Follow Michelle Millhollon on Twitter, @mmillhollon. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/ politicsblog.