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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

September 8, 2005 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Cole announced today that the Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency in Oklahoma. Declaration of a public health emergency streamlines procedures the government must follow in awarding grants or contracts to help prevent or treat health threats.
June 24, 2005 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole voted today for the FY06 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Act (H.R. 3010) which will provide funding for important education and health programs.
December 6, 2004 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Cole voted today for legislation that will establish a voluntary program under which federal employees may purchase supplemental dental and vision insurance through the Federal Employment Health Benefit Program (FEHBP).
October 6, 2004 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole today voted for legislation that will improve rural access to physicians by giving foreign students studying and graduating in the U.S. the opportunity to practice medicine in the U.S. Access to Rural Physicians Improvement Act of 2004 (H.R. 4453) passed in the House today.
September 9, 2004 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – To continue his commitment to education, healthcare and America's workers, Congressman Tom Cole voted today for the Labor Health and Human Services Bill (H.R. 5006).
May 12, 2004 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – In an effort to help the millions of people who are uninsured, Congressman Cole voted for two pieces of legislation, H.R. 4279 and H.R. 4280, today that will help make health care more accessible to American workers.
December 4, 2003 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – With just a few days left until the President signs the historical bipartisan Medicare and Prescription Drug Bill, Congressman Tom Cole toured the Norman Regional Hospital and discussed the benefits for the local hospital under the new law.
November 21, 2003 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – The bipartisan Medicare Conference Report (H.R. 1) grants all 523,409 Medicare beneficiaries in Oklahoma access to a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit – for the first time in the history of the Medicare program.
June 19, 2003 Press Release
Washington D.C. – Based on findings that as many as 41 million Americans do not have health insurance, and that 60 percent of the uninsured are employed by small businesses, Oklahoma's Tom Cole is cosponsoring a measure that will allow small business owners to form association health plans (AHPs).

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