The Washington Post

Obama wants his critics to offer health care ideas. FreedomWorks is doing it.

(Julie Jacobson/ Associated Press) (Julie Jacobson/ Associated Press)

President Obama likes to say that groups on the right that attack the Affordable Care Act don't ever say what they would do instead to improve the nation's health-care system.

"If you still don’t like Obamacare -- and I know you don’t," Obama said Wednesday at a speech sponsored by the Center for American Progress, prompting laughter from the crowd, "even though it’s built on market-based ideas of choice and competition in the private sector, then you should explain how, exactly, you’d cut costs, and cover more people, and make insurance more secure.  You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you’re against."

At least one organization--FreedomWorks--is prepared to do exactly that.

In an interview, the group's president Matt Kibbe said that it would soon launch a Web site to crowd source two or three dozen alternative ideas on how to “replace Obamacare with a patient-centered system.” Kibbe said the list would include the single-payer option favored by many liberals, along with much more conservative options.

"There’s tons of credible ideas out there," he said. "We want to put them out on a crowd-sourced Web site and get the American people to tell us what they think actually makes sense."

After picking a few of the best ones, Kibbe said, the group plans to hold a mock hearing on Capitol Hill where the citizens who came up with the best proposals could argue their case.

Now,  that doesn't mean FreedomWorks isn't going on the attack in the meantime when it comes to the president's law.  Kibbe said it is preparing a booklet it will distribute to its members and lawmakers within the next couple of weeks that will contrast what the law’s supporters "said it did then and what is true."

In other words, Obama will still have to keep making speeches defending the law. But he might have to drop one of signatures lines if FreedomWorks actually delivers on its promise.



Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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