Weekly Columns

Relief from Obamacare

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Washington, October 12, 2017 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

This week, President Trump signed an executive order to allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines while easing some of the restrictions set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – so patients can shop for coverage they can afford. State Street in Bristol perfectly illustrates why restrictions on purchasing coverage from another state make no sense –Tennesseans can’t purchase health insurance from a business on the other side of the street. I thank President Trump for working to ensure Tennesseans have access to more affordable health insurance.

The president’s executive action will pave the way for allowing small businesses to band together to purchase insurance through association health plans while protecting self-insured plans from government regulation. These changes will help spur competition to lower health care costs by enabling small businesses to pool together and exercise the same buying power as large corporations. Furthermore, this executive order will allow the sale of short-term health insurance policies, which are currently banned under Obamacare.

Just last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means passed my bipartisan legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is among the worst provisions in Obamacare. The IPAB is an unelected, unaccountable board of 15 bureaucrats with sweeping powers to change Medicare – its negative effects could reduce seniors’ access to care in an effort to cut Medicare spending. There is still bipartisan concern about many aspects of the ACA, and I believe it is imperative we get rid of one of the worst features of this law before arbitrary cuts are implemented that harm seniors’ access to care.

While these reforms are positive and long overdue, Congress still has a responsibility to repeal and replace Obamacare. In May, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would replace Obamacare with patient-centered, free-market reforms. These reforms – which expanded access to health savings accounts, reduced burdensome regulations that drove up the cost of health insurance, and reformed our broken Medicaid system – would have given more choice to consumers and would have led to more affordable health care.

Unfortunately, the Senate has repeatedly failed to pass a health care plan. Failing to act is not an option. Tennesseans are all too familiar with the failures of Obamacare as we’ve seen options for coverage dwindle while costs have skyrocketed year after year. This summer, Tennessee insurers requested double-digit premium increases for Obamacare plans in 2018 following skyrocketing rate increases for 2017, and – had it not been for BlueCross BlueShield re-entering the Knoxville market – a quarter of the counties in my district would have had no options for coverage under the exchange for the upcoming year.

I’m thankful President Trump is continuing to press forward working towards improving our health care system. I’m also glad to report the House is continuing our efforts to protect Americans from the failures of Obamacare. Seven years later, the fact remains that the only thing bipartisan about Obamacare is its opposition.

As always, feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family.
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