Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Connect

Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

The Road To Replacement Begins Now

January 9, 2017
Weekly Columns
Of all the policy disagreements between President Obama and Congressional Republicans, none have been as persistent or contentious as the debate over health care reform, and Obamacare specifically. So it comes as no surprise that the very first item on President-elect Trump’s agenda is the repeal of President Obama’s signature legislative “accomplishment.” Despite having voted over 60 times to repeal Obamacare only to have it either die in the Senate or be vetoed by the President, Congressional Republicans are finally poised to deliver on their promise to rid the nation of Obamacare once and for all.
 
Opponents of Obamacare have yet to settle on one specific replacement alternative, but there is a broad consensus about the core foundation upon which a replacement plan will be developed. Simply put, Americans should have access to more choices in health care plans, have a range of prices that make health care affordable to everyone, and a revised set of current rules and regulations to give Americans greater flexibility in purchasing and keeping their plans that aren’t dependent on where you live, who you work for, or what pre-existing condition they may have.
 
Obamacare restricted choice by dictating the terms of coverage, forcing people to purchase their plan through a government run “exchange”, and even fining consumers and providers alike if they failed to adhere to the dictates of the law. Not only did that negatively impact consumers, it had devastating consequences for insurance providers as well. Across the nation, insurance companies are leaving the market in droves. Oklahoma has been particularly hit hard and now has only one provider. This lack of competition has caused premiums to increase across the country by an average of 25%.  In Oklahoma we’ll see ours increase by an average of 69%.
 
A better alternative would be to give consumers greater options in terms of the level of coverage they elect to purchase, and greater options for how they pay for such plans. One particular example would be to allow consumers to purchase a high deductible plan that would protect them from catastrophic costs and combine it with a Health Savings Account from which they could pay routine health care costs with pre-tax dollars. Another option would be to allow small businesses to pool together in order to increase their leverage and influence when negotiating premiums and terms of coverage.
 
Prior to Obamacare, millions of Americans had their insurance through their employer. And the vast majority of them were somewhat or very satisfied with their plans.  However, if you changed jobs or moved to a different state you most likely had to change your health care plan as well. And for people who did not have employer based insurance, most of them had to either pay the full cost of coverage, or go without. A replacement plan should make insurance more portable, allow consumers to purchase their plan wherever they can get the best deal – including across state lines, and have the policy connected to the individual rather than the job or the government. When consumers have choices, they also have incentives to better manage their consumption of health care. This will drive down costs and might even get people to make better decisions about their own health and well-being.
 
Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster for consumers, small businesses and the U.S. economy. There is no doubt that it will be repealed in the very near future. In fact, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans have been preparing for this fight for a while now, and our basic principles for a “Better Way” in healthcare can be found at https://abetterway.speaker.gov. While the details remain to be worked out, the new administration, backed by a united Congress, will replace Obamacare with a patient centered, market driven alternative that will better serve the interests of America’s patients, doctors, and taxpayers.
Issues: