Why Congress Must Act
Hard-working Americans and small businesses are being driven out of the health insurance market because of soaring costs. More than 28 million Americans remain uninsured. Premiums and deductibles are sky high. Obamacare is ruining the individual and small group markets for health insurance, reducing patient choice, limiting access to care, and increasing out-of-pocket costs.
increase in individual premiums
decrease in small employer plans
trillion in spending
|Individual premiums increased in the first four years of the ACA from $232 to $476 a month on average.||Between 2012 and 2016 there was a 24% decrease in the number of small employers offering health insurance.||If nothing is done, taxpayers will have to fund $1.6 trillion in ACA spending over the next ten years.|
Not surprisingly, the number of people with individual policies continues to fall. Obamacare forces people to pay more for policies that cover less. Networks are narrower, deductibles are higher, copayments can be prohibitive, and access to the best doctors and hospitals is restricted. Half of those in the exchange market have a “choice” of only one insurer. Yet government spending is soaring.
A Fresh Approach
A fresh approach to health reform would provide resources and greater flexibility to the states to steward the return of freedom and personal choice over health decisions to patients and their doctors. Our latest Health Policy Consensus Group letter, published April 18, 2018, in the Daily Signal explained why a new plan is needed and how it would work:
Congressional leaders were poised earlier this year to spend tens of billions of dollars in the omnibus bill to temporarily shore up Obamacare’s failing health insurance system.
That money, however, never would have given Americans the long-term relief they so desperately need.
After this idea was struck from the spending bill, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who had worked closely with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to shape a bipartisan deal, said that “the only choice we have is to go back to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”
Give Americans Real Relief
The No. 1 issue voters want their elected representatives to address this year is the high cost of health coverage. Americans need genuine relief that doesn’t just paper over Obamacare’s serious flaws, but instead opens a new path for real reform.
We, along with many colleagues and allies in the conservative community, are working to chart this new path to empower consumers and return authority to the states to provide people better and more affordable health coverage options.
Our plan targets the two main problems under Obamacare: Costs went up, and choices went down.
To fix these problems, we lay out three big goals to: 1) lower costs and improve patient choices, 2) give states flexibility and resources to achieve these goals, and 3) set federal guardrails so people can choose private coverage if they don’t like the options their state provides.
Our plan recognizes that what works in Massachusetts will not work in Mississippi or Missouri or Montana. What works in big cities will not work in rural areas. In response, we would provide states with greater flexibility and new resources to serve as stewards in returning freedom and choice over health decisions to patients.
Dollars would flow not to insurance companies, but to the states through block grants that would replace Obamacare’s payments to insurers. With new flexibility, states could use the money to:
- Lower premiums and stabilize turbulent health insurance markets.
- Improve choices and encourage wider coverage for all by creating innovative coverage options.
- Allow recipients to use their government assistance to buy a private health plan of their choice.
- Protect the vulnerable by helping those with pre-existing conditions without making coverage so costly for the young and healthy.
Our plan would also support patient choice with improved health savings accounts. Taxpayers would be better protected because federal spending would be placed on a predictable path. And our plan has built-in life protections.
Building on Progress
This plan builds on stepping stones laid out by Congress and President Donald Trump.
Congress has repealed Obamacare’s most despised provision—the individual mandate tax penalty—starting next year. It also delayed several of Obamacare’s most destructive taxes, and it repealed the dreaded Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The Trump administration is doing all it can with its regulatory authority to give people more affordable choices, including allowing small businesses and individually-insured people the ability to join larger insurance pools to get better rates and more flexible benefits. And it is reviving temporary health insurance policies, which will allow millions of Americans a bridge to retaining coverage.
This step-by-step relief is important, but it is not enough. These actions do not repair the fundamental damage that Obamacare is doing to the private insurance market. For that, Congress must act.
There is a brighter path forward
Obamacare broke its core promises by increasing costs and reducing choices. The federal government has taken over decisions that should be made by families. Patient choice and competition have been usurped by government control.
Our plan would serve as a down payment to reverse this damage. It would begin to restore a properly functioning market in the health sector to lower costs through consumer choice and competition—allowing Americans greater ability to choose the doctor, health care, and health plan of their choice.
We believe this path could get majority support in Congress and show the American people that members understand their distress. We are inspired by the willingness of so many to work creatively toward providing this down payment solution to begin addressing Obamacare’s problems.
A Unique Solution
As former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum observed, in his 25 years in public life, this is the first time he has seen a major initiative emerge from “the bottom up and the inside out” to refine a policy proposal and build broad coalition support.
Congress would be wise to consider this plan as the true solution to the problems facing America under Obamacare.
The following signatories urge Congress to act to help Americans struggling with limited choices and high costs because of Obamacare.
Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania
Doug Badger, Galen Institute and The Heritage Foundation
George Barna, American Culture & Faith Institute
Gary Bauer, American Values
Naomi Lopez Bauman, Goldwater Institute
Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution and Stanford University
Dean Clancy, HSAs for All
Benita Dodd, Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Marie Fishpaw, The Heritage Foundation
Linda Gorman, Independence Institute
Beverly Gossage, HSA Benefits Consulting and Independent Women’s Forum
Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life
Rea Hederman Jr., The Buckeye Institute
Phil Kerpen, American Commitment
Heather R. Higgins, Independent Women’s Voice
Dan Holler, Heritage Action for America
Lindsay Boyd Killen, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Yuval Levin, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Carrie Lukas, Independent Women’s Forum
Nadine Maenza, Patriot Voices
Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund
John McClaughry, Ethan Allen Institute
Derek Monson, Sutherland Institute
Peter Morrow, Catholic Medical Association
Tim Chapman, Heritage Action for America
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Sal Nuzzo, The James Madison Institute
Dan Perrin, HSA Coalition
Sally Pipes, Pacific Research Institute
Ramesh Ponnuru, American Enterprise Institute
Kevin Roberts, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Jameson Taylor, Mississippi Center for Public Policy
Mike Thompson, Thomas Jefferson Institute
Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
Dan Weber, Association of Mature American Citizens
Libby Wright, Citizens Against Government Waste
Read more in The Daily Signal
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