By Phil Roe
Almost seven years ago, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was signed into law. President Obama promised this law would expand access to and lower the cost of health insurance coverage, but almost every promise the president made about Obamacare has since been broken. Americans were promised they could keep their doctors and the health coverage they had if they liked them, but many could not. In the meantime, the individuals and families who have tried to get coverage under Obamacare have seen their costs skyrocket while their options for coverage have dwindled. Nationwide, the cost of an average insurance plan on the exchange was predicted to increase an average of 22 percent in 2017.
In Tennessee, roughly 131,000 people faced losing their coverage last fall when BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the state’s largest insurer, pulled out of the exchanges in three markets on the heels of an average 56 percent premium increase across the state. Thanks to Obamacare, roughly 1 in 5 patients only have one health insurance provider to choose from. Obamacare has failed, and the only way to provide relief to the patients struggling under this law is to fully repeal it.
President Obama and Democrats in Congress try to say Republicans have no plans for health care reform, but that’s just not true. In fact, just last week I reintroduced the American Health Care Reform Act (AHCRA), legislation I authored with the Republican Study Committee to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms. I first introduced the AHCRA in 2013, and I’ve been working hard to get support for my legislation in Congress. This bill gets the federal government out of the health care business and includes provisions that will give patients the tools and assistance they need to shop for a plan that fits their needs while also lowering the cost of health care. My bill would allow patients to purchase health insurance across state lines, create a standard deduction to help patients with the cost of their coverage and protect patients with pre-existing conditions, to name a few of the provisions in the legislation. Most importantly, this bill reaffirms our commitment to protecting life and doesn’t include one single tax increase or mandate. Many of our ideas were also included in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Better Way agenda, and I’m confident my bill can serve as a strong starting point for House Republicans’ alternative to Obamacare. We aren’t wasting any time getting started.
The first step the House will take in our path to immediately repeal Obamacare is to pass the Fiscal Year 2017 budget resolution. Once the House and Senate have agreed to a budget resolution, Congress will have the opportunity to use a powerful tool known as reconciliation. Reconciliation gives Senate Republicans the ability to avoid the filibuster on budget-related provisions and pass them on a simple majority vote. Reconciliation is the tool Democrats used in 2010 to get Obamacare through Congress, and now, with a new president, Republicans in Congress will use that same tool to repeal it. By taking steps to pass a budget resolution now, Republicans in Congress are ensuring President-elect Trump will quickly have a bill on his desk to begin the process of righting Obamacare’s wrongs.
For almost seven years I’ve warned about the fallout of the president’s broken health care law. The work ahead of us will not be easy, but the patients who have struggled under the ACA deserve better. You can rest assured I will continue to push for Congress to immediately repeal Obamacare while working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to draft a replacement that will give patients and providers the certainty they’ve long deserved.