Health Care Reform 2018

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.

105%
increase in individual premiums
24%
decrease in small employer plans
$1.6
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.

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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 BadgerGalen Institute and The Heritage Foundation
George BarnaAmerican Culture & Faith Institute
Gary BauerAmerican Values
Naomi Lopez BaumanGoldwater Institute
Lanhee ChenHoover Institution and Stanford University
Dean ClancyHSAs for All
Benita DoddGeorgia Public Policy Foundation
Marie FishpawThe Heritage Foundation
Linda GormanIndependence Institute
Beverly GossageHSA Benefits Consulting and Independent Women’s Forum
Kristan HawkinsStudents for Life
Rea Hederman Jr.The Buckeye Institute
Phil KerpenAmerican Commitment
Heather R. HigginsIndependent Women’s Voice
Dan HollerHeritage Action for America
Lindsay Boyd KillenMackinac Center for Public Policy
Yuval LevinEthics and Public Policy Center
Carrie LukasIndependent Women’s Forum
Nadine MaenzaPatriot Voices
Jenny Beth MartinTea Party Patriots Citizens Fund
John McClaughryEthan Allen Institute
Derek MonsonSutherland Institute
Peter MorrowCatholic Medical Association
Tim ChapmanHeritage Action for America
Grover NorquistAmericans for Tax Reform
Sal NuzzoThe James Madison Institute
Dan PerrinHSA Coalition
Sally PipesPacific Research Institute
Ramesh PonnuruAmerican Enterprise Institute
Kevin RobertsTexas Public Policy Foundation
Jameson TaylorMississippi Center for Public Policy
Mike ThompsonThomas Jefferson Institute
Grace-Marie TurnerGalen Institute
Dan WeberAssociation of Mature American Citizens
Libby WrightCitizens Against Government Waste


Read more in The Daily Signal

Read more in POLITICO