Orlando Sentinel

June 6, 2017

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-repeal-replace-obamacare-daniel-webster-front-burner-20170606-story.html

Obamacare is collapsing across the country. Rising health-care costs are forcing insurers out of the marketplace and leaving patients with nowhere to go. One in three counties in America have no option in the Obamacare marketplace. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that average premiums increased 105 percent since the implementation of Obamacare just four years ago. This is a $3,000 increase for American families, which is a far cry from the $2,500 decrease promised by Obamacare.

 

Obamacare drives up the cost of health insurance through mandates and bureaucratic control and subsidizes these ever-growing costs for about 12 million people enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges. This scheme encourages continued increases in the cost of health care while forcing more public dependence on the government. As a result, Obamacare created more than $1.1 trillion in new spending, over half of which was raided from Medicare. Stealing money from Medicare is a dangerous practice that puts millions of seniors at risk.

 

Our national debt is unsustainable, and skyrocketing health-care subsidies, like those found in Obamacare, contribute to this fiscal irresponsibility, pushing today’s costs onto our grandchildren. On our current spending trajectory, annual interest payments on the debt will be more than $550 billion by 2023, which is greater than our current defense spending. This will force the U.S. to borrow money just to pay the interest on the monies we've already borrowed.

 

Obamacare’s top-down one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington do not work. The American Health Care Act, recently passed by the U.S House of Representatives, would refocus limited taxpayer resources to expand consumer choices and put patients first. Americans would be able to take back control of their health care, choose their doctors, and shop for the plans that best fit their needs.

Refuting some of the misconceptions about the American Health Care Act, this legislation would guarantee coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, allow kids under 26 to remain on their parents’ plans, and prohibit lifetime limits for insurance costs.

The American Health Care Act would put patients’ unique needs first. For example, it would allow states to obtain a waiver from the mandated Essential Health Benefits and other burdensome regulations that have sent Obamacare into its current death spiral.

Waivers enable states to keep health-care costs down by tailoring their plans to meet the individual needs of their citizens. States that opt for the waiver must submit an alternate set of benefits and demonstrate their plan would lower premiums and expand choice. For individuals with high medical costs, states that pursue a waiver must have a high-risk pool to offset the costs of individuals with pre-existing conditions. The American Health Care Act contains $138 billion in funding for the Patient and State Stability Fund, which would directly subsidize high-risk Americans. Research shows these pools are the most proven way to control the costs of health care for these individuals.

Americans without other health-care coverage would receive an advanceable, refundable tax credit to help buy insurance in the individual market. These benefits would move from job to job and into retirement, so individuals could make the best health-care coverage choices regardless of employment status. The AHCA doubles the amount of tax-free money individuals could contribute to their Health Savings Accounts and expands permissible uses for the money, giving Americans greater access to the most proven tool for driving prices down.

For individuals whose health-care coverage may lapse, a 63-day grace period would allow them to maintain continuous coverage while shopping for new plans. Insurers could not deny coverage or renewal of coverage based on health status.

Health care driven by consumer choice that puts the patient-doctor relationship at the forefront offers a wider range of affordable health-care options while preserving the quality of care that Americans deserve.

Americans deserve better than Obamacare.

Congressman Daniel Webster is a Republican who represents Florida District 11 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This opinion piece was first published by the Orlando Sentinel.