In The News
OP-ED: Obamacare Failed
Washington, January 12, 2017
Tags: Health Care
Congressional Democrats recently held a press conference on Capitol Hill where they unveiled their slogan to attack Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare - “Make America Sick Again.” Their obvious attempts to pit Americans against each other continue unabated.
The repeal of Obamacare was prominently debated in last November’s election and voters across the country elected Republican majorities in Congress and a Republican to the White House who pledged to repair our healthcare system. The vast majority of constituents who contact my office strongly oppose Obamacare. So, no, Senator Schumer and Rep. Pelosi, our hard-working citizens don’t want to “Make America Sick Again.” What they do want is for Congress to fix the mess you created – which is what we told our Voters in November that we’d do, and we’ll do it.
Obamacare has failed. Countless families in the 4th District have told me they can’t afford their health care costs. President Obama promised that the law would make coverage more affordable for families; that didn’t happen. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, premiums in most states have increased by double digits (as high as 76 percent in Oklahoma), forcing Americans to pay more each month just to keep their coverage. Likewise, deductibles have become so high many Americans feel like they don’t even have health coverage. I’ve heard countless horror stories from constituents of deductibles doubling and tripling. I guess that’s what then-Speaker Pelosi meant when she said, “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
President Obama promised, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Americans learned this was an empty promise. Plans purchased on Obamacare exchanges have networks with 34 percent fewer providers than plans purchased off the exchanges, according to a study cited by the House Ways and Means Committee. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the number of counties with one insurer grew by 25 percent this year.
Although Republicans are accused of trying to harm Medicare, Obamacare gutted over $800 billion from Medicare to fund massive new government programs - jeopardizing the future of the health care system our seniors rely on. The law also sought to increase taxes by $1 trillion. I’ve heard from dozens of local small businesses that these tax hikes and the companion regulations are crushing job creation and wage growth. In addition, many small medical practices have been forced to merge into larger health systems or go out of business due to regulatory costs.
I’ve always found it ironic and hypocritical that many of the architects of the health care law, including the Obama Administration, have exempted themselves from its mandates. Neither I nor my staff receives any exemption from this law.
To be fair, our health care system had a lot of problems before passage of Obamacare. And there are thousands of people, including here in the 4th District, that have received health coverage through Obamacare or otherwise benefit from it. There are provisions in the law I support and will seek to retain, such as protecting citizens with pre-existing conditions. But as explained above, this law has been a disaster for a majority of Americans and we have to reform what’s wrong with our healthcare system - and do it as fast as we can.
I’ve argued for years that Republicans had an obligation to aggressively promote alternatives to Obamacare, rather than just opposing it. I’ve advocated for health care reform that reduces costs, increases coverage, and improves access to and quality of care. Solutions I support include: allowing citizens to purchase health insurance across state lines, helping small businesses pool together to negotiate better rates, expanding health savings accounts and pushing tort reform.
For several years, I’ve been a co-sponsor of legislation to do this. The Empowering Patients First Act ensures that no one is priced out of the market, including individuals with pre-existing conditions, by providing grants to each state for high-risk pools or reinsurance pools to subsidize health insurance for high-risk populations and individuals. This bill also provides measures to protect employer-sponsored insurance and makes all health care coverage more portable to help ensure families have continuity of care. The end result? More choices, not more government mandates. You have the freedom and the flexibility to choose the care that’s best for you.
President-elect Trump’s nominee to chair the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Congressman Tom Price, was the author of this legislation. So it will likely form the basis for any new health care policy. You can learn more about our ideas to improve health care by going to http://abetterway.speaker.gov/.
As Obamacare is repealed, Congress must ensure there is a stable transition period to a better healthcare system so that people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them. President Obama believes the status quo is working: he’s already urging Congressional Democrats to not work with us on creating a better health care system. If they want to continue the political infighting and keep trying to pit Americans against each other, I can’t stop them.
What I’ll be doing is trying to build a 21st Century health care system that’s affordable, stable and secure. Patient-centered and doctor-centered; not Washington centered. I don’t have all the answers. I want your feedback. All of us have a stake in the future of our health care system. And everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care. That’s my goal.