Column: Republicans are fighting for patient-centered care


ObamaCare is riddled with broken promises and it is causing real pain for Americans across the country. In 2009, Democrats said it would lower costs and provide reliable care. However, for the past seven years, patients have lost access to their doctors and we continue to feel the sticker shock of rising premiums and deductibles.

In my own state of Ohio, our premiums on the individual market increased by double-digits this year. Our CO-OP collapsed in 2016 and more than 20,000 people suddenly lost their coverage. Today, 20 of our counties only have one insurer participating in the exchanges, meaning many individuals and families have one expensive option that may or may not accept their doctor.

These problems aren’t unique to the Buckeye State. Nationally, premiums increased on average by 25 percent on the exchanges this year. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on ObamaCare’s 17 other failed CO-OPs.

Thirty-four percent fewer doctors and other providers accept ObamaCare insurance compared to private insurance. And according to data compiled by the Joint Economic Committee, 41 percent of ObamaCare plans have small or extra-small doctor networks.

How did we get here? The answer is Democrats wrote ObamaCare with a Washington-knows-best mentality. Then they voted and fought to keep it that way.

For instance, when ObamaCare’s CO-OPs collapsed, thousands of consumers’ healthcare coverage was disrupted, leaving them little time to find a new plan before being forced to pay a tax penalty under the individual mandate.

To right this wrong, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) introduced the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act to exempt these consumers from this unfair tax penalty after they lost coverage by no fault of their own. It passed the House on Sept. 27, 2016, with unanimous Republican support. However, 165 Democrats voted against it and President Obama threatened to veto it.

This is just one example of many where Democrats ignored the real impact of their broken promises to protect ObamaCare’s failed mandate that forced people to purchase unreliable coverage.

Right now the ObamaCare exchanges are failing, and I understand the anxiety that people must feel. When I was in high school in Columbus, Ohio, my family lost our healthcare insurance because my dad lost his job as a steelworker.

That is why I agree with President Trump who said, “Action on ObamaCare is an urgent necessity.” Americans need to find certainty in a system that won’t leave them empty-handed with nowhere to turn.

With the president’s support, we are taking a dramatically different approach to put patients and families first. Our repeal and replace plan, the American Health Care Act, advances reforms to provide urgent relief from ObamaCare, lays the ground work for a 21st century healthcare system with lower costs and more choices, and gives people the right tools to access high-quality, affordable and reliable care.

The American Health Care Act eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties so that people will no longer be forced to purchase Washington-approved plans through a government-run exchange. It also drives down costs by dismantling the more than $1 trillion tax hike that ObamaCare imposed on families, job creators and health care providers.

To empower people to spend their healthcare dollars the way they want and need, it expands allowed contributions to Health Savings Accounts. In addition, it provides Americans who do not receive insurance through work or a government program with an advanceable, refundable tax credit so they can purchase a plan that’s right for them.

ObamaCare added a tangled mess of bureaucracy, mandates and taxes to our health care system. It created a disastrous, unworkable knot that is impossible to untangle in just one step. That is why we are taking a deliberate, multi-step approach to carefully transition to a patient-centered system where every American can access quality care at a cost they can afford.

The first step is with the American Health Care Act. The second is through administrative actions that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price can take to stabilize the health care market and give states additional flexibility to meet the needs of their communities.

The third and final step is the passage of other bills Congress must consider to restore the free market and further decrease costs, like allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.

Americans deserve a healthcare system that isn’t driven by Washington mandates. They deserve more choices, more freedom and better access to the care they need.

That is why Republicans are moving forward with our plan for reform that starts with repealing ObamaCare in the American Health Care Act. Unlike the Democrats who empowered Washington, we are focused on putting power back in people’s hands— and it is time that we deliver.

Rep. Tiberi represents Ohio’s 12th District. He is the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. This column first appeared in The Hill.

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