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Healthcare

Nearly a decade since a Democrat-controlled Congress and President Obama passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is evident that Obamacare failed to live up to its many promises, particularly those related to affordability of and access to care.

In Oklahoma, premiums have increased 227 percent since 2014, and the lowest cost plan option in the Obamacare exchanges has increased 159 percent. Additionally, the number of insurers participating in the exchanges has dropped by two-thirds in that time. Clearly, Obamacare has done little to restrain the growth of health care costs and to provide consumers with choices in their health care. Unfortunately, some in Congress now believe we should abolish private, employer-sponsored insurance entirely and implement a single-payer system – in which the government manages health care costs and delivery – at a projected 10-year cost of at least $32 trillion over 10 years and with exorbitant new taxes.

The Need for Real Solutions

I believe Congress should work to implement a market-based system that gives consumers more choice and states the freedom to tailor health care options to meet the needs of their citizens. Some aspects of the current system enjoy bipartisan support, such as preserving the ability for young Americans to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26 as well as protections for pre-existing conditions and lifting bans on annual and lifetime limits.

However, Congress must move away from Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach and repeal its more onerous provisions like the health insurance and Cadillac taxes, which make premiums and health care more expensive, and cuts to Medicare providers, which endanger hospitals and Oklahoma’s rural health care facilities.

Solutions at the federal level should focus on:

  • Lowering prescription drug costs: While it is important to preserve incentives for manufacturers to innovate and create new and better drugs, affordability of prescription drugs remains a real problem for many Americans. That is why I support solutions to prevent the “evergreening” of patents, a practice when brand-name manufacturers file dubious patents on their drugs to extend their monopoly, and to encourage the quick entry of generic drugs into the market once patent and exclusivity periods expire. Competition in the drug space is a proven tool to reducing costs. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the market entry of generic drugs lowers brand-name prices over 50 percent within their first year on the market.
  • Encouraging medical research: As a former Chairman and now the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, I have been a strong supporter of increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal support for medical research at our nation’s universities and laboratories quickens the pace of research and offers the chance to bring to market new and innovate therapies based on discoveries made by American researchers.
  • Increasing competition in the health care industry: Americans deserve access to health care options that fit the needs of their family, and Congress should broaden the types of plans from which to choose from and permit the sale of insurance across state lines to encourage competition. In 2018, the House passed Republican legislation removing restrictions that barred most Obamacare exchange enrollees from accessing available lower cost plans options. Additionally, the Trump Administration has issued regulations to expand access to association health plans and short-term insurance that are estimated to result in 1.1 million newly insured. The Trump Administration is also working on guidance to facilitate the formation of inter-state pacts for the sale of health insurance across state borders between participating states.
  • Preventing waste, fraud and abuse: The non-partisan Government Accountability Office estimated waste, fraud and abuse within Medicare cost taxpayers $52 billion in fiscal year 2017. Estimates for Medicaid fraud are also in the tens of billions of dollars. By providing the resources necessary to combat waste, fraud and abuse, we can lower the cost of health care for everyone.
  • Expanding opportunities for consumer-directed care: Congress should pass legislation expanding access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), savings accounts that permit Americans to set aside pre-tax dollars for their health care costs. The median income of an HSA-holder is roughly $57,000, meaning these accounts directly benefit middle class Americans by making their health care dollars stretch further. In 2018, the Republican-led House passed a series of reforms to expand the number of health care plans that could be paired with an HSA, raise the maximum contribution amount and expand the number of services and products an HSA can cover.

More on Healthcare

March 25, 2020 Press Release
Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) announced today that he will host a constituent telephone town hall focused on the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 24, 2020 Weekly Columns

Unlike the traditional enemies our nation has faced throughout history, COVID-19 is one that can dangerously hide in plain sight and threaten the health and wellbeing of any American community. Indeed, winning this war requires not only special weapons but our collective effort and commitment. As the federal government continues to actively respond, arm communities nationwide and determine the best steps forward in terms of resources and relief for the American people, I am encouraged by the whole-of-government approach that’s been deployed to fight this invisible enemy.    

March 10, 2020 Weekly Columns

Over the last several weeks, there have been numerous developments related to the coronavirus, including an uptick in confirmed U.S. cases and unsettling swings in the stock market. As we navigate each day, it’s important to remember that we are still in the early stages of combating a mysterious virus that we didn’t even know existed until earlier this year.

March 9, 2020 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) introduced the bipartisan TRICARE ECHO Improvement Act, which would make commonsense changes to TRICARE’s existing Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) program.
March 4, 2020 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.
February 27, 2020 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after President Donald Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence will lead the federal government’s multi-agency response to COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China.
February 21, 2020 Press Release
Oklahoma City, OK – On Thursday, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation honored Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) with its inaugural Multiple Sclerosis Advocate Award.
February 19, 2020 Weekly Columns
The worsening spread and global impact of the coronavirus continues to be at the center of news coverage. While there is certainly cause for concern, I am encouraged that the United States is better prepared than it has been in recent memory to combat this mysterious infectious disease.
February 18, 2020 Weekly Columns
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that Americans’ life expectancy rose for the first time since 2014. Two of the main reasons were declines in the number of deaths from drug overdoses and cancer.
February 12, 2020 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Today, top Appropriations Committee Republican Kay Granger and Vice Ranking Member and Labor-HHS-Education Ranking Member Tom Cole released the following statements after a briefing by Administration officials on the response to the coronavirus.

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