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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 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

June 26, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on King v. Burwell on Thursday.
June 25, 2015 Press Release
Washington D.C. – Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) today weighed in on the House Appropriations Committee passage of funding of the Fiscal 2016 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education spending bill, which contained funding for a centerpiece component of Murphy’s landmark mental health legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.
June 23, 2015 Weekly Columns

Among the most heartbreaking circumstances in life are those in which we see our family, friends or loved ones suffering from illness. My own family knows firsthand the toll that Alzheimer’s disease takes on those living with it and on those caring for them. What starts out as slight memory loss eventually leads to disappearing personalities and then no recollection of the people and memories that filled an individual’s life. I remember how painful it was to see that happen to my own father during the last several years of his life.

June 21, 2015 News Stories

Norman Transcript - Staff Reports

The House Labor Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole recently proposed a $300 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, as requested by Alzheimer’s Association advocates. This is a significant milestone toward reaching the levels deemed necessary by scientists to realize the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease — to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

June 21, 2015 News Stories

Norman Transcript - Staff

The House Labor Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole recently proposed a $300 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, as requested by Alzheimer’s Association advocates. This is a significant milestone toward reaching the levels deemed necessary by scientists to realize the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease — to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

June 16, 2015 News Stories

The Hill - Peter Sullivan

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled their healthcare spending bill, which moves to halt ObamaCare in its tracks while boosting healthcare funding by about $300 million overall. 

The appropriations bill blocks funds from being used to “implement, administer, enforce, or further any provision of” ObamaCare.

May 19, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC - Today, Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 2400, legislation to create a Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act (SIGMA). The bill is supported by all Majority members of the Oversight Subcommittee and all key oversight subcommittee chairs, as well as a wide array of prominent conservative advocacy organizations.
March 26, 2015 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The legislation passed today permanently replaces the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that often short-changes Medicare reimbursements for doctors. Further, the bill includes small reforms to address the broken structure of Medicare and provides a two-year extension for funding community health centers.
March 26, 2015 News Stories

The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel

In an extraordinary display of bipartisanship, the House voted Thursday to remake a troublesome system for paying the doctors who treat Medicare patients.

Primarily aimed at giving physicians some financial certainty each year, the legislation also will end the frequent last-minute congressional patches to a law that has caused problems for many years. The bill passed 392 to 37 and now goes to the Senate.

February 3, 2015 News Stories

New York Times - Robert Pear

 The House passed a bill on Tuesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the first time in the new Congress, but Democrats appeared to show more zeal in defending the law than Republicans did in trying to get rid of it.

The measure goes now to the Senate, where the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has said that the chamber will vote on legislation repealing the health law but has not announced a schedule.

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