Almost four years ago, the president’s healthcare reform plan began with worthy goals: increasing access to quality care and lowering costs for all Americans. Now that the law’s new insurance marketplaces are open, it’s clear that Obamacare not only fails to meet these goals, it creates an entirely new set of challenges. So far, millions of Americans have been kicked off of their healthcare plans and forced into more expensive federal or state exchanges. And after finding out they couldn’t in fact keep their healthcare plans as promised, millions will soon learn that the doctor they’ve seen and known for years is out of their network, despite another one of President Obama’s pledges that you could keep your doctor if you wanted to.
We can do better than the president’s healthcare law, which has brought skyrocketing out of pocket costs and fewer options. President Obama consistently says, “if you’ve got good ideas, bring them to me, …[if] you still think this law is a bad idea then you’ve got to tell us specifically what you’d do differently.” That’s exactly what House Republicans have done. For years, Republicans have been putting forward healthcare reforms centered on preserving the patient-doctor relationship and offering quality, low-cost healthcare through increased competition. Republican alternatives ensure that healthcare is more affordable, more available and more responsive to the American people’s needs without imposing a one-size-fits-all big-government approach.
Access to high-quality, low-cost health insurance is attainable by opening healthcare markets across state lines, allowing Americans to purchase health care in a competitive, nationwide system. The free market should be able to work within guide posts set up by the government, not micromanaged through Washington’s ineffective bureaucracy. This way, insurance companies and hospitals must produce high quality, affordable coverage options to make insurance companies work hard to get and keep your business. This is in contrast to Obamacare forcing everyone into the healthcare market where young, healthy people pay more so that older, sicker individuals pay less. The administration is already having serious problems convincing young people to sign up for insurance – dooming this cost-shifting model for failure.
Republican healthcare reforms keep costs down by structuring markets in a way that makes sense. Allowing a greater number of individuals to join together in the marketplace gives them better access to more robust insurance options at a lower cost. By improving and expanding high-risk pools through Universal Access Programs, all Americans – regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses – can have access to coverage. There are also plans that create pools for small businesses, letting them come together to increase their coverage of employees while leveraging the same bulk negotiating power that large businesses use to keep costs down.
A person’s healthcare decisions are deeply personal, yet Obamacare puts many healthcare decisions in the hands of nameless Washington bureaucrats. The law even gives what’s called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) power over seniors’ Medicare decisions, going so far as to deem whether some tests or procedures are worthwhile, regardless of what you and your doctor may decide. Republican plans return the power to people – letting them plan for and budget their own health care costs. Our alternatives level the playing field in the tax code so families can deduct health costs on their taxes like businesses can now. Other Republican solutions allow individuals to decide to invest at higher levels in tax-free Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which helps individuals to budget and save for health costs using pre-tax dollars. GOP solutions also make data on Medicare, insurance plans and health care providers more available so Americans are well informed to make decisions on what best suits their health needs.
By emulating the successful strategies many businesses and states have used to address the rising cost of healthcare, our government can get to lower costs and higher quality insurance options. By mirroring California and Texas’s efforts at tort reforms, Republican plans enact medical liability reforms to end frivolous malpractice lawsuits and prevent artificial cost inflation. There are also solutions that set up rewards to incentivize states to continue to use innovative, results-driven programs to reduce premiums and increase the number of insured people.
Republican alternatives prove that healthcare reform can uphold the doctor-patient relationship and provide accessible, quality care without adding billions to the debt or raising taxes on hardworking American families. Individuals can make their personal health decisions, control more of their money and have access to affordable options in a competitive system. Obamacare’s massive system of costly burdensome rules doesn’t have to be our future – it’s time to repeal and replace this flawed law with real reforms that improve the healthcare system for all Americans.
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, represents Illinois' 6th District, which includes much of DuPage County.