By Robert Pittenger
Seven years ago, President Obama and Congressional Democrats mounted a government takeover of our health care. The results have been disastrous.
As Obamacare took effect, 4.7 million Americans lost their health insurance. In the ensuing years, millions more saw their premiums and deductibles skyrocket. Quite the opposite from what Democrats promised with the “Affordable” Care Act. This year, premiums rose an average of 22 percent.
Not only did costs go up, but choices also went down. Insurers began fleeing the government-created marketplace because mandates and government intervention created a market where insurers took on massive losses. This year in North Carolina, 95 out of 100 counties have only one insurer offering Obamacare coverage. Nationwide, Humana recently announced they are exiting the exchanges for 2018, citing an unprofitable market. Aetna’s CEO admitted Obamacare’s markets are in a death spiral.
This week, my House Republican colleagues and I unveiled our plan to provide relief from Obamacare. As Republicans have promised for seven years, the American Health Care Act will create more choices, lower costs, and give hardworking American families control of their own health care again.
Furthermore, this bill maintains protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan, and ensures a stable transition period while eliminating the onerous government mandates.
Instead of Obamacare’s complex, complicated and convoluted system of subsidies, our plan establishes an easy-to-understand system of advanceable, refundable tax credits. These credits are adjusted for age and family size so everyone receives the proper assistance they need to buy insurance.
Our American Health Care Act also includes the most significant entitlement reforms in 50 years, which will secure the long-term viability of Medicaid and reduce the debt. Right now, Washington provides an open-ended check to states. Our plan shifts to providing states with a per-capita allotment, ensuring the program won’t bankrupt America and continue to take dollars away from other important priorities like medical research, national defense, and infrastructure improvements.
By putting states on a budget, we incentivize them to root out waste, fraud and abuse in Medicaid. During my time in the North Carolina Senate, we found 20-30 percent of Medicaid payments were fraudulent. Through the use of ever-advancing data analysis technologies, we have been able to save millions in North Carolina.
Finally, it’s important to remember this is phase one of the process. Due to procedural Senate rules, we cannot include every reform we’d like in this bill. But rest assured, we will work to implement important changes like allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines and medical liability reform through administrative changes by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and additional legislation.
As we proceed through a transparent legislative process, I look forward to hearing from you and working with a unified Republican government to repair America’s health care system. After seven years of Obamacare, House Republicans are poised to deliver patient-centered, market-driven solutions.
THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
The Charlotte region is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without local National Weather Service Doppler radar coverage. This week, I introduced legislation (H.R. 1427) requiring the Commerce Secretary to analyze this “radar gap” and quickly develop a solution.
Because of the “radar gap,” the National Weather Service missed signs of a developing tornado in 2012 and didn’t issue a warning until 10 minutes after that tornado snatched a boy from his bed and tossed him onto the side of I-485. Thankfully, the boy survived. In 2015, the National Weather Service missed a tornado in Union County. During last week’s storms, the false alarm rate for tornado warnings was 100 percent. This erodes trust. The lack of consistent and reliable radar data for the Charlotte region is serious, and we shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to act.
Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.