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 cost of at least $32 trillion over ten 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:
- 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
U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) issued the following statement today after House Democrats passed H.R. 4872, Reconciliation Act of 2010, and H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
"Along with an overwhelming majority of Oklahomans, I strongly oppose the government takeover of health care and the arrogant way it's been forced upon the American people. This deeply flawed legislation raises taxes, expands government control and kills job creation, but it fails to cut health care costs or meaningfully reform the insurance system.
WASHINGTON - Oklahoma’s House Delegation is urging Speaker Pelosi to exclude any unfunded federal mandates from the final health care bill. In a letter to the Speaker, the House Delegation said the unfunded Medicaid mandates in the House-passed bill would have a crippling effect on the state of Oklahoma. “As a delegation, we are deeply concerned this mandate would force drastic funding cuts for valuable state programs and significantly deteriorate the choice and quality of Oklahomans’ health care programs,” they wrote.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement today supporting C-SPAN's request to air coverage of the health care reform negotiations.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) issued the following statement after House Democrats passed an unprecedented, government run health care plan, H.R. 3962.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Tom Cole recently sent a letter to Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee and Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge asking them to assess the impact on the state of Oklahoma if Speaker Pelosi's health care bill, H.R. 3962, passes. The bill is expected to be considered late this week.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) provided the following remarks after House Democrats revealed their latest health care proposal earlier today.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today during the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee markup, U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) worked with members of the Committee to redirect $10 million dollars of funding for pediatric cancer research and eradication efforts. Cole is Oklahoma's sole member of the House Appropriations Committee.