Weekly Columns

The American Health Care Reform Act

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Washington, June 4, 2015 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

On Monday, the Obama Administration released ObamaCare rate requests from health insurance companies for 2016. It comes as no surprise that many insurers have proposed rate increases of more than 20 percent, citing rising medical and prescription drug costs. So despite the president’s promise to lower health care costs, his law has driven prices in only one direction—up.

As families and employers struggle to navigate the many challenges posed by ObamaCare, it’s important for Republicans to take their vision for real health care reform to the American people. Throughout the health care debate, Democrats purposely ignored Republican ideas in an attempt to create an illusion that the Affordable Care Act was the only option to fix our country’s health care system. As a physician with more than 30 years of experience caring for patients, I came to Congress to help fix our country’s broken health care system. I’ve seen firsthand how high costs affect families, and I’ve heard directly from patients the challenges they face.

That’s why this week, for the second Congress in a row, I joined my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee (RSC) to introduce the American Health Care Reform Act, our health care alternative to ObamaCare. This bill is a good starting point to truly addressing the problems in the American health care system in a commonsense, patient-centered way that returns decision-making power to patients and their doctors.

This bill builds off the first version of the American Health Care Reform Act, which earned the support of a majority of House Republicans. After fully repealing ObamaCare, our bill will change the tax code to level the playing field between those who receive insurance through their employer and those that purchase it on their own. Based on Kaiser Family Foundation data, 80 percent of Americans will receive a tax cut under this plan. Next, the bill will provide protection to individuals with preexisting conditions by ensuring they can move between insurance markets provided they maintain continuous coverage.

The legislation will allow Americans to shop for better care by letting them purchase insurance across state lines and by allowing small businesses to pool together and negotiate better rates. The bill will reform medical liability laws in a way that respects states’ rights and protects the sanctity of human life by prohibiting any health plan from requiring coverage of abortion services. Most importantly, this bill makes meaningful reforms to the health care system without requiring Americans to purchase insurance.

We also have incorporated two areas of particular focus this year: improving choices for veterans and encouraging medical innovation. Last year, in response to the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs where secret waiting lists were exposed, we created the Veterans Choice Program, which gives any veteran who lives more than 40 miles from a VA clinic or has been waiting more than 30 days for needed care the ability to receive care elsewhere. In our bill, we expand veterans’ choice by giving any Category 1 veteran or any Medal of Honor winner the ability to receive care at a facility of their choice, irrespective of how close they live to a VA facility. Our nation’s heroes don’t deserve to be trapped in a system with unresponsive bureaucrats, and we hope that through choice and competition, the VA will adapt and provide veterans better care.

Our bill also incentivizes health care innovation by creating a new X-Prize-like reward for developing cures for the top 5 causes of death in the United States - heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Our health care system is the best in the world because we have been successful in eradicating so many diseases. We want to keep it the best in the world by focusing on managing – and curing – the diseases that affect so many today.

This forward-thinking approach to health care incentivizes innovation. We need to move beyond ObamaCare and the health care of the past so we can focus on the future of health care. We have the best and most innovative health care system in the world. Our outcomes are among the best and we’re constantly looking for new and better ways to treat patients.

Our bill doesn’t just pave the way to improve health care, it makes concrete strides to modernize it too. I thank my colleagues at the Republican Study Committee, especially Chairman Bill Flores, for their leadership and work on this legislation. Health care is too important to get wrong again, and I hope the American Health Care Reform Act helps present a new vision for health care reform. 

Feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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