Republicans are always searching for something and not finding it: In 2003 it was WMD in Iraq. In 2013 it was a smoking gun on Benghazi or the IRS.
And since 2009, it's been "The GOP Alternative to Obamacare(TM)."
Now that Obamacare has defied expectations and reached a critical mass of enrollments, it is clearer than ever, that, as Paul Krugman put it yesterday:
Obamacare IS the conservative alternative, and not just because it was originally devised at the Heritage Foundation. It’s what a health-care system that does what even conservatives say they want, like making sure that people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, has to look like if it isn’t single-payer.In fact, you don't have to go back to the Heritage roots in the 1990's. In 2009, before the ACA became, as Dr. Ben Carson said, the “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” GOP Senators Tom Coburn (OK) and Richard Burr (NC) teamed with Paul "Inner City" Ryan to propose a plan that was not that far from the ACA. As Jon Chait writes, it was:
based on replicating Mitt Romney’s successful reform in Massachusetts in the other states. It set up health-care exchanges in every state, which would be regulated heavily. The plan, the authors wrote, “prevents cherry picking — when insurance companies choose to cover only healthy patients — by equalizing risk across insurance companies and reversing the perverse incentives that leave those most vulnerable with the fewest options.” It required that all health-insurance plans “meet the same statutory standard used for the health benefits given to Members of Congress.”
Chait adds: "Ezra Klein really liked it."
At the time, the Democrats were still proposing the public option. But when they dropped that, all of a sudden, Ryan, Burr and Coburn backed off their plan and the GOP hunkered down into complete oppositional mode, with the pretense of a fig leaf of Senators Grassley and Enzi feigning participation in Baucus's health care committee.
Besides the Romneycare model, the only GOP "ideas" are "selling insurance across state lines," "tort reform," and "high risk pools." (Of course, David Gregory et al. don't dare ask them how these would accomplish anything.)
But I haven't even heard much about this triumverate lately -- just the "skewed numbers" and "Repeal!" mantras.
So, like a viable Republican Presidential candidate, the search for a GOP health care plan is doomed. The basic GOP plan is in existence, it is working and the GOP will get no credit for it.