Alternative Medicine

Getting to the Right of Obamacare

The disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has revived Republicans’ hope of repealing the law. It’s hard to remember that the Republican slogan was once “repeal and replace,” suggesting the party would offer an alternative to Obamacare. Now, with the new law in crisis, the Republican leadership seems to hope it will collapse under its own weight.

Not all conservatives are convinced of the wisdom of that approach. Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin argued recently in the Wall Street Journal that “some Republicans think that political success requires nothing more than watching Obamacare fail. But if the new system quickly implodes, that would be all the more reason to have an alternative on hand—other than another leftward move toward single payer.”

Ponnuru and Levin are part of a small network of (mostly) young conservative activists dubbed “reform conservatives” or “reformocons.” Ponnuru writes for National Review and Levin is the editor of National Affairs, a new conservative policy journal. Also among their ranks is New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who, with his collaborator Reihan Salam, authored a reform manifesto for the GOP titled Grand New Party, in which they called for a serious...

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About the Author

J. Peter Nixon is a senior director at Kaiser Permanente, an integrated health-care delivery system based in Oakland, California. His views are his own.