The Republican health care plan unveiled last month by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan isn’t a perfect free-market system, but it’s a realistic, positive alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Hadley Heath Manning, senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), said

“It reflects traditionally conservative steps toward a more consumer-driven, market-friendly health reform plan," Manning told Patient Daily News today. "I think this is a good step both policy-wise and politically for Speaker Ryan to unveil this plan."

The proposal is part of Ryan’s pre-Nov. 8 election blueprint called “A Better Way,” which lays out a GOP alternative to the Democrats on myriad policy issues, including not just Obamacare, but national security and the war on poverty. In the coming weeks Ryan is expected to release more agenda alternatives around tax reform, regulations and constitutional authority ahead of the presidential election.

Manning said there’s a lot in this GOP health care plan, which is not yet written in legislative language but is basically a policy paper.

“It’s got a lot of ideas in it and not a lot of specifics," Manning said. "But I do think that there are some major components of it that should get people’s attention, especially because one of the major concerns of individuals, families and businesses in our country continues to be the high cost of health insurance; and his plan, I think, would do a better job of targeting the root cause of our ever-increasing health insurance costs."

Specifically, according to Manning, Ryan’s health care policy plan attempts to address the past inequities between employer-sponsored insurance and individually purchased insurance plans by making the goal of those individually purchased plans more affordable for everyone.

“I understand Obamacare has a system of tax credits and Speaker Ryan’s plan would have a system of tax credits, but there are some important differences in how those would be implemented; and I think Ryan’s plan would be more friendly to the economy and more friendly to our pocketbooks,” she said.

Ryan’s plan also essentially attempts to address the high cost of health insurance through de-regulation, Manning said.

“He would allow Americans, individual families, business owners — whoever is making the decision about insurance plans — to choose a plan that does not necessarily meet the stringent requirements of the so-called essential health benefits that are required under the ACA,” she explained.

Additionally, Ryan’s plan would attack the varying coverage mandates at the state level that create issues for many Americans depending on which state they live in.

“This plan would remove those federal requirements for what every (state) insurance plan has to cover," Manning said. "Of course, some people have praised these benefit mandates because they say they ensure that everyone has robust coverage, but then on the flip side of that it takes away our freedom to buy catastrophic health insurance plans or more basic health insurance plans that might better suit the budgets of millions of people."

In her opinion, it should be left up to individuals, families and business owners to decide what level of insurance coverage is appropriate for their risk level and for their budgets. 

“That shouldn’t be something the government has to oversee at the federal level," Manning said. 

Generally, there are a number of other things in Ryan’s policy paper, whether it comes to torte reform or Medicaid reform, that address certain parts of the U.S. health care system that the ACA altogether ignored, Manning said.

“That’s another step in the right direction in terms of medical liability reform and reforming … Medicaid," she said. "And I do believe that the Republicans and Paul Ryan are being politically smart, but also being humanitarian in their concerns for people with pre-existing conditions and for people who are low-income, so I think it’s a very realistic plan … and I’m happy to see it address some of these issues that the ACA seems to avoid or ignore."