ICYMI- Lewis on Health Care Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Case You Missed It, Congressman Jason Lewis (MN-02) wrote the following op-ed on the American Health Care Act in today’s Rochester Post-Bulletin:
It's far too early to start the 2018 campaign season, but that apparently hasn't stopped a few folks from some creative myth-making for future political gain.
While national organizations like indivisibleguide.com continue to attack Republican House members for not conducting town halls six weeks into a new session, they conveniently ignore Democrat House members who've gone six years without one.
But the "town hall crisis" is only a means to an end. The real narrative these very liberal groups hope to cement in the mind of voters is the false notion that when it comes to health care, Republicans have no replacement plan for the failed Obamacare project.
This is demonstrably false.
I, among many other candidates, ran on the specifics of a market-oriented health care alternative. Nevertheless, in the name of transparency, let me spell out the three essential elements of the GOP plan and hopefully remove any lingering misinformation.
CHOICE: The Affordable Care Act effectively made buying affordable health insurance illegal. In order to get tax relief, you had to purchase expensive plans on 'government exchanges.' The result has been massive increases in premiums, deductibles and co-pays—all at once. And because insurance pools were shrinking as the young and healthy chose to go without, nearly 1/3 of US counties now only have 1 insurer. Trying to force Americans to buy insurance they don't like has failed. Instead of a one-size fits all approach, the GOP alternative gets rid of expensive mandates and allows consumers to choose the insurance that works best for them.
PORTABILITY: Going all the way back to wage and price controls during World War II, health insurance has been increasingly tied to having a job or a government program. Lose it and your insurance is gone. Much of this is due to an unfair tax code where corporations get tax breaks for buying insurance, but individuals don't. The GOP corrects this by offering a refundable tax credit that anyone can use to buy the plan that's right for them anywhere in the country—and not just on a government exchange. As folks grow older, the tax credit increases, allowing the plan of their choice to travel with them from job to job or in retirement. Not only that, but our plan seeks to increase tax-deferred Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to help cover deductibles and even over-the-counter items, further leveling the playing field.
SAFETY NET: Contrary to politically driven assertions designed to scare voters, the GOP plan specifically protects patients with pre-existing conditions and maintains the ability of dependents up to age 26 to stay on their parent's insurance. At the same time, it removes price controls from the market allowing the young and healthy to once again afford insurance. Further, to help each state find the right solutions, our plan offers states innovation funds so that they can better meet their distinct health care needs.
Our plan also seeks to modernize Medicaid for able-bodied adults while ensuring access for the most vulnerable. Medicaid is now three times as costly as under President Clinton. Without reforms, providers will have to take large reimbursement cuts which inevitably leads to rationing. And under current law, the federal government pays a greater portion of the cost of coverage for able-bodied adults than for the most vulnerable among us -- the disabled, women and children. That isn't right.
To be sure, President Obama didn't start the health care crisis, but the ACA made it worse—prompting Gov. Mark Dayton to sheepishly admit that the Affordable Care Act is "no longer affordable." Contrary to the president's 2008 promise that for "people who already have insurance…we will work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family," premiums are up $4,400 on average since the passage of the ACA.
That's why Minnesota had to pass a $310 million emergency "discount plan" offering some relief for families still suffering under the state's destabilized insurance markets.
Such an urgent situation shows that left alone, Obamacare may well collapse — but that is unacceptable to people like me interested in governing responsibly.
Sometimes the easiest thing to do in politics is nothing. You placate the critics and avoid being attacked. But I believe this situation is urgent, and responsible government requires we move forward on the best possible plan.