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Bobby Jindal: Republicans can’t just run against Obamacare

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014.


President Obama on Tuesday definitively declared that "the Affordable Care Act is here to stay." Yet just one day later, Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., rolled out a 26-page plan for replacing the controversial health care law.

"We should absolutely repeal the law," Jindal said at a meeting in Washington hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. That said, he continued, "Too many Republicans in this town think that we can just run against Obamacare and we can't say anything else until November."

Republicans are revving up their opposition to the health law ahead of this November, but Jindal acknowledged "it's no secret" that he's looking beyond the midterm elections and considering his own presidential prospects in 2016.

While other potential Republican presidential candidates make appeals to the conservative base or consort with deep-pocketed GOP donors, Jindal said he's "trying to win the war of ideas."

"If we really think this is a critical moment in our country's history, we owe it to [voters] to have the debate of ideas," Jindal said.

Jindal's "freedom and empowerment" health care plan is largely a collection of classic conservative ideas for health care reform, such as tort reform, allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines and expanding health savings accounts. His plan would also turn Medicare into a "premium support" program, meaning the government -- instead of setting prices and paying doctors directly -- would subsidize seniors who purchased private insurance.

Rather than handing out federal tax credits for people to purchase insurance -- as Obamacare does -- the plan would give states access to a grant pool of over $100 billion over 10 years, which they could use to subsidize coverage. States could access that money as long as they met certain standards, such as guaranteeing access to insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.

The 42-year-old governor has a background in health care policy that sets him apart from other prospective 2016 nominees. In 1998, he was named the executive director of a national commission on the future of Medicare, and he later served as assistant secretary for the Health and Human Services Department during the George W. Bush administration.