The status quo is not the solution to our health care problems

April 10, 2017
In The News

In 2010, supporters of “Obamacare” said health care costs would decrease. They said, “If you like your plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

Instead, Pennsylvanians face skyrocketing premiums and unaffordable deductibles. They also have been forced from their plans and have had to find new doctors.

People in five states and in nearly one-third of counties nationwide, along with 40 percent of Pennsylvanians on the exchange, have only one insurance provider option.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department approved 2017 “Obamacare” rate hikes averaging 32.5 percent for individual plans and 7.1 percent for small group plans.

LNP’s “2016 in Review: Lancaster County’s Top Business Stories” highlighted the devastating impact of this: “With premiums rising 40 percent on average, (Lancaster) became the most expensive market in Pennsylvania for individual insurance plans sold under the Affordable Care Act. The number of plans offered shrank from 37 to nine.”

The status quo is failing.

You deserve patient-centered health care that provides access to care from the doctor and the plan you choose, at an affordable price. Congress is working to solve the problems and create a health care system that achieves these priorities.

First, we need to overhaul our nation’s failing health care system.

We need to end “Obamacare’s” costly mandates and provide for a free-market system that will lower premiums. Individuals and families need access to more options. We need to provide tax relief for hardworking Americans to help make health care affordable.

Next, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price must take steps to help relieve “Obamacare’s” regulatory burdens. Regulatory power must be returned to the states — where it belongs — with governors being allowed to run state-specific Medicaid programs, instead of a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach.

But we can’t stop there. Our health care system is much broader than this: Only 7 percent of Americans receive health insurance through “Obamacare.”

Congress should work to pass reforms such as allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, making prescription drugs more affordable, and reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits that increase costs and restrict access to care. Reforms are needed to ensure that our system, as a whole, works for everyone.

Right away, we need to protect, preserve and improve Medicare. Today an individual working past 65 and maintaining employer-sponsored health care faces a lifetime late-enrollment penalty on their future Medicare plan. I introduced legislation to end this penalty. This one change can make health care more affordable for seniors.

We also need to make it easier for small businesses to promote a healthy workforce and offer more affordable health care coverage. The House recently passed legislation I co-sponsored to do just that.

The Small Business Health Fairness Act would empower small businesses to band together through association health plans and negotiate insurance costs on behalf of their employees. This legislation would put small businesses — hit hard by “Obamacare” mandates, soaring costs and limited choices — on a level playing field with larger companies and unions.

Next, to help ensure that children have access to high-quality care, I am focusing on two areas that require action: children who face medically complex health challenges; and a severe shortage of pediatric physicians nationwide.

The bipartisan Advancing Care of Exceptional Kids Act would improve the coordination and delivery of care for children facing complex health challenges. This bill would protect access in a timely manner to the best health providers for those children most in need. It has been introduced in the Senate and will be introduced in the House. I will be a co-sponsor and will work to secure support.

Additionally, we need to ensure that pediatric clinics and hospitals have the resources and staff to care for our children appropriately. This summer, Congress needs to reauthorize Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I believe we can expand Graduate Medical Education pediatric opportunities.

The next generation of medical professionals is eager to begin providing high-quality health care to children. When we reauthorize CHIP, I will work to ensure that we are expanding opportunities to add highly-trained medical professionals to pediatric staffs across Pennsylvania and nationwide.

I am working to keep my promise to repeal and replace “Obamacare” with a patient-centered health care system that lowers costs and increases choices. We also must work to protect the most vulnerable among us.

At this moment, we face a unique opportunity to achieve these goals, and I’m not going to waste it. We cannot afford, nor should we settle for, the status quo. We desperately need success — and I’m committed to doing my part to achieve it.