Let’s Begin Again with Patients First
Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06)
How's that Obamacare thing working out for you?!? Not too well. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently announced Obamacare will lead to the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers by 2024. The president’s signature domestic policy will incentivize folks to work less. As disappointing as that is, the fact that the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress are claiming this as a victory for America is disturbing.
Of course, this is to be expected. After all, the White House spin machine has been in overdrive ever since Obamacare came online last year. The law’s unveiling – replete with every imaginable and, in some cases, unbelievable incompetence – has been a deafening and defining indictment of not just the Obama Administration’s governing abilities but it’s governing philosophy.
At the time this law was drafted, that philosophy professed an abundance of faith in the ability of Washington bureaucrats to manage the nation’s health care system. As that faith has been shown to be grossly misguided, the Administration is now usurping congressional authority and seeking to rewrite the law through executive fiat. In both cases, the American people and their personal health care choices are being harmed.
Inside the Washington Beltway, much of the talk is on how detrimental the failings of Obamacare may be for the political lives of the law’s supporters. But it’s the lives and livelihoods of the American people that are suffering the most. We have folks all across the country losing their health care coverage and access to the physicians they knew and trusted. Premiums have skyrocketed – taking more money out of the pockets of hard-working families.
When confronted with the real harm that real Americans are experiencing under Obamacare, the White House and its allies defend the mess they created by claiming their critics do not have any solutions of their own. Nonsense! Conservatives have for years been offering positive health system solutions that would put patients, families and doctors in charge of health care decisions, not Washington.
Specifically, for the past three Congresses, I have introduced the Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300). It is a patient-centered solution that would repeal the president’s health care law – its taxes, mandates, and bureaucratic control and command – and replace it with reforms that expand access to quality, affordable health care choices for more Americans. Through tax deductions, credits, refundable credits and advanceable refundable credits, the Empowering Patients First Act would make it so individuals and families have the financial feasibility to purchase the health care coverage they want for themselves – not that Washington forces them to buy.
Our plan tackles the real health care challenges of portability and pre-existing conditions. Folks ought to own their health care coverage so they can take it with them if they change jobs or lose a job. Those who are just now entering the workforce will have, on average, upwards of 12 to 15 jobs throughout their careers. They don’t need to necessarily have as many different health care plans. H.R. 2300 would make portability of coverage a key component in empowering individuals to have a sense of security and peace of mind.
Just as important, we agree that no one should be priced out of the insurance market if they have a bad injury or diagnosis. Government mandates are not the solution. They simply distort the health insurance market. Our better solution is to provide for robust pooling mechanisms that give folks the opportunity to join together and gain the purchasing power of millions so no one individual’s adverse health status makes coverage unaffordable for them or others. Again, this type of solution invests greater power in the hands of patients and families, not Washington.
For years, the rising cost of health care has meant less money in the pockets of American families. We have to do more to address this underlying challenge. The Empowering Patients First Act does so in a myriad of ways. For example, by allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, we force insurance companies to really compete for your business.
Then there is the practice of defensive medicine that is driving up the costs of care. One study by Jackson Healthcare estimated that one third of health care dollars are spent in the practice of defensive medicine – roughly $800 billion annually to protect physicians from lawsuit abuse. The Empowering Patients First Act would give physicians an affirmative defense in a court of law without denying anyone their legal rights.
There are additional reforms included in our plan and in solutions being offered by many other conservative policy thinkers. The bottom line: there’s no reason the American people should be forced to suffer under Obamacare or go back to a previous system that was failing so many before, so long as we begin by empowering patients.