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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

November 28, 2012 News Stories

National Journal - Michael Catalini

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra on Wednesday said lawmakers should consider every option to solve the fiscal cliff only to backtrack moments later by arguing against reforming Social Security or Medicare.

"Everything should be on the table. Period," said Becerra, the vice chairman of the Democratic caucus.

He then quickly contradicted himself by arguing that Social Security shouldn't be targeted because it doesn't contribute to the deficit and the Affordable Care Act has already adequately reformed Medicare.

July 11, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 6079 - the Repeal of Obamacare Act:

"The American people have made clear that they simply do not want a radical overhaul of the health care system.  Obamacare is a deeply unpopular, unaffordable and unworkable bill that limits individual freedom, raises taxes, drives up health costs and mandates thousands of regulations enforced by unelected bureaucrats. 

May 22, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement in response to the news that the Obama administration has hired a public relations firm to create a media campaign to promote the president's unpopular heath care law. The firm Porter Novelli was awarded a $20 million contract by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

March 22, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved the Protecting Access to Healthcare Act (PATH), H.R. 5. The legislation would repeal provisions in President Obama's Affordable Care Act to establish the “Independent Payment Advisory Board” (IPAB), a 15-member panel of unelected bureaucrats granted authority to determine cuts to Medicare. The bill would also help lower health care costs by implementing sensible medical liability reform.

March 3, 2011 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House approved H.R. 4 – Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011. The legislation repeals a burdensome provision of Obamacare requiring small businesses and rental property owners to file an IRS Form-1099 for any vendor with which they have more than $600 in yearly transactions. The bill reduces the deficit by $166 million in the first 10 years, cuts federal spending by $20 billion over ten years and reduces taxes by $19.7 billion:

January 19, 2011 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 2 - Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act:

December 23, 2010 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.R. 847, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives.

"Mr. Speaker, long before New York City's First Responders rushed to save their fellow Americans in the fire and horror of 9/11, they came to help the people of Oklahoma City deal with the death and destruction stemming from the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. 

April 26, 2010 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the Oklahoma Delegation reacted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) analysis that the recently passed health care legislation will result in higher premiums, lower reimbursement rates, and will force many Americans from their current health care plan breaking President Obama’s promise of ‘if you like it, you can keep it.’ 

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole

March 21, 2010 Press Release

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.

January 25, 2010 Press Release

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.