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Going the Wrong Way on Healthcare

July 6, 2020
Column

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – is ten years old. However, with ten years of hindsight, it is clear the ACA has been anything but affordable for Nebraska families. In the Third District, insurance on the ACA exchange often costs upwards of $30,000 for a family when you include annual premiums and deductible. Despite the ACA raising health insurance rates instead of lowering them, this week Speaker Pelosi brought a new ACA expansion bill (H.R. 1425) before the House of Representatives.

The insurance scheme developed by the ACA does not work – rather than effectively lowering costs, its mandates have spiked insurance rates for those who have to pay for coverage out of pocket. In fact, rather than truly address the forces driving health costs, more than half of House Democrats would prefer to enact Medicare for All – a bill they have cosponsored to initiate a full-scale government takeover of our nation’s health care system with a $32 trillion price tag.

H.R. 1425 would not only pour more money into subsidies and bureaucracy to paper over Obamacare’s failures, it would also implement government mandated drug price controls, and punish states which chose not to expand Medicaid. What we really need are reforms which give Americans more control over their care and increased competition to bring more affordable coverage.

With an ongoing, worldwide pandemic, we also need pharmaceutical innovations – new vaccines and medicines – more than ever. Instead, H.R. 1425 would institute government price-fixing which has been repeatedly proven to reduce future innovation. This means fewer medical breakthroughs, and fewer new cures. If the government stifles innovation, taxpayers will be on the hook for the slow and expensive development of urgently needed new vaccines or cures.

I was disappointed when H.R. 1425 passed the House of Representatives, but it stands no chance of being passed by the Senate or signed into law by President Trump. Instead of this partisan exercise, we should work together to address surprise billing and drug prices.

In the Ways and Means Committee, I have been working with my colleagues on these issues for a year and a half and we have identified a number of bipartisan solutions which would reduce drug prices and improve access to health care. I stand ready to continue working together, toward these real solutions which can pass both houses of Congress and be signed by President Trump to improve health care for all Americans.

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