Jindal would likely get down to business—and there’s a lot he could do as head of HHS. For example, Obamacare requires that all health plans sold on the individual market cover certain “essential health benefits,” things like hospitalization and ambulatory patient services, but leaves it up to the HHS secretary to define those benefits. For example, one essential health benefit category is “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” Does that include expensive behavioral therapy for autism? As written, Obamacare allows HHS to determine that. Loading up health plans with expensive benefits, of course, drives up premiums. In theory, a Secretary Jindal could define those benefits down to actual essentials, thereby increasing the diversity of plans offered on the individual market.
The best part is, this wouldn’t require any congressional action. It could be accomplished by administrative fiat, which is how Obamacare was designed to function—its framers just assumed a Democratic administration would be implementing the law in perpetuity. Jindal, a health policy wonk of the first order, gets all of this and would make full use that administrative power to curb the law’s excesses.