Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Connect

Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

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

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.

January 4, 2016 News Stories

The Oklahoman - Stephen Prescott, M.D. 

For the sake of Oklahoma's energy sector, let's hope the New Year brings a bump in oil and gas prices. But even if that doesn't happen, there are still plenty of economic silver linings to be found in the state.

In particular, the ongoing development of the bioscience sector has helped diversify our state's — and particular Oklahoma City's — economy. For 2016, here are five bioscience success stories that should just keep getting better.

Making cancer history

December 11, 2015 News Stories
A year ago, when Tom Cole was announced as the new chairman of the powerful House panel that funds medical research programs, he was no expert on medical science.
November 30, 2015 News Stories

Tulsa World - Jackie Kouri

Everyone with a brain is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It’s that simple, and that dire.

Pages