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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Healthcare

In 2010, the Democrat-controlled Congress and President Barack Obama passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Not only was the legislation not geared at protecting patients, but, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it is extremely unaffordable. Unlike this unworkable law, I support true, fundamental healthcare reform that expands access to healthcare and increases affordability without sacrificing quality. To that end, in 2017, I joined with House Republicans in voting to pass the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, a comprehensive proposal to roll back onerous Obamacare regulations, reduce insurance premiums, and improve the health care system for all Americans.   
 

PPACA or "Obamacare"

PPACA is a trillion dollar government takeover of our healthcare system paid for by higher taxes on small businesses and deep cuts to Medicare. Unfortunately, it has created a system that limits a patient's right to choose what doctor they see and even what type of care they receive. It hurts small businesses, senior citizens and anyone who was happy with their current health coverage. Obamacare has imposed a massive and confusing bureaucracy into an already bureaucratic system by adding numerous additional offices, bureaus, commissions and programs above and beyond the entitlement expansions.
 

Republican Reforms

Recognizing the flaws in this legislation, in March 2017 the House passed the AHCA. I was proud to support this legislation because it would repeal some of the more onerous provisions of the PPACA. The AHCA would preserve the ability for young Americans to continue coverage on their parents’ plans until age 26, and would preserve the current ban on denying policies to people with pre-existing conditions. Importantly, the bill would allow for a market-based system to give consumers more choice, give states the authority to regulate Medicaid to fit the needs of the states, nullify the burdensome individual and employer mandates from the ACA, and would introduce new tax credits to provide more flexibility for families to purchase health insurance that suits their needs. The bill includes additional funding to support insurance markets for high-cost individuals and for people with pre-existing conditions.
 

Republican Alternative

Instead of a massive government takeover of our healthcare system, a number of steps can be taken to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for all Americans, ensure that medical decisions are made by patients and their doctors—not bureaucrats—and give all Americans the freedom to choose a health plan that best meets their needs. Indeed, Congress has already passed more than 70 changes to the PPACA into law, but more is left to be done. These additional changes include, among others:
 
  • Comprehensive Tort Reform: Because no cap exists on damages, doctors run unnecessary and costly tests out of fear that they will be sued for malpractice. These extra tests, along with the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance serve to increase to cost to provide healthcare across the entire spectrum. I support legislation that would limit non-economic and punitive damages, except in the case where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that a person acted with malicious intent or deliberately failed to avoid unnecessary injury.
  • Increased Competition: I believe that allowing insurance providers to compete for business across state lines leads to lower healthcare costs and increased quality. Unfortunately, by segmenting the population into 50 different pools, premiums will be higher.
  • Prevent Waste, Fraud and Abuse: Waste, fraud and abuse cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year. By providing the resources necessary to combat waste, fraud and abuse, we can lower the cost of healthcare for everyone.
  • Association Health Plans: One of the largest obstacles for many small businesses is the cost of health insurance. By allowing states, small businesses, associations and other organizations to band together, health insurance can be offered at a lower cost.

More on Healthcare

March 23, 2016 News Stories
Lawmakers left town Wednesday for their spring recess without voting on an emergency funding request for the Zika virus, as the Obama administration and congressional Republicans failed to resolve their disagreement over whether federal health agencies need more money to support research and preparedness.
February 29, 2016 News Stories
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his aides are leading the White House push to cure cancer, but it’s officials in federal agencies who will dole out research dollars.
February 22, 2016 Weekly Columns

Like most rhetoric coming from President Barack Obama, his latest budget was filled with initiatives that sound good until you get into the details, especially the details regarding how to pay for these initiatives. This couldn’t have been more clear than in the method he proposed to deal with health threats to society posed by diseases like cancer and conditions like opioid abuse. While the president saw the value of enlisting biomedical and scientific researchers to deal with these problems, his proposed plan to pay for these policies is extremely irresponsible.

February 2, 2016 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he voted to override the president’s veto of legislation to repeal Obamacare and withhold funds from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
February 2, 2016 News Stories

STAT - Dylan Scott

Congressional Republicans said on Tuesday that they’re open to boosting federal funding for cancer research, as the Obama administration proposed the day before. But they aren’t willing to simply rubberstamp the $755 million that the White House is asking for in the next fiscal year.

January 20, 2016 Press Release
Alexandria, VA - Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) have been selected to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their steadfast commitment to increasing investments in research to advance innovative studies focused on preventing and eradicating diseases that take a tremendous toll on families and our economy. They will be honored at Research!America’s Advocacy Awards Dinner on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.
January 13, 2016 News Stories

The Atlantic - Nora Kelly

When Americans go to the ballot box, they expect the congressional candidates they support to take their interests to the Hill—to fight for the political issues and programs they prefer with an enthusiasm and dedication that’s deeply personal. That doesn’t always happen. But in the last year or so, members of Congress responded to what one member called a “constituent-driven movement” to rally around the National Institutes of Health and the biomedical research it funds.

January 11, 2016 Weekly Columns

Last week was one for the history books in Congress because it brought an occasion that was a long time coming. Upon the return of lawmakers for legislative business this year, the U.S. House of Representatives swiftly voted to repeal the president’s healthcare law. At first, that might not sound like anything new coming from House Republicans, given our more than 50 previous attempts to repeal the harmful law. But this time marked the first time the measure was also agreed to by the Senate and finally able to reach the president’s desk. 

January 6, 2016 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.
January 4, 2016 News Stories

National Journal - Rachel Roubein

Wristbands that track your daily activity. Kits that can purportedly analyze your genetics. Smartphone apps that track your daily intake of protein, sugar, and carbs.

It’s the age of “precision medicine,” as doctors and patients look to leverage vast amounts of individualized information available to fight diseases in a way they’ve never been able to before—with treatments that take into account environment, life-style, and even genes.

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