Weekly Column: A Better Plan for America’s Health Care
When many of us ran for Congress, we promised voters that we would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—or Obamacare. With Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress and a president in office willing to work with us, we are finally able to make good on that promise. The House of Representatives recently introduced legislation to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered plan to improve competition within the marketplace and help make health care more affordable for all Americans. This bill, the American Health Care Act, appears to contain many provisions we are in favor of, but it will need to be carefully reviewed, considered and possibly amended before it is approved.
Since being enacted in 2010, Obamacare has failed the American people. Millions lost the plan they enjoyed, health care costs continue to skyrocket, and new taxes and mandates have crippled the budgets of families and businesses. In South Dakota alone, the number of health insurance providers has shrunk from 17 to only two today because insurers lost so much money on Obamacare. Additionally, South Dakotans enrolled in Obamacare plans saw their premiums increase 37 percent just in the last year. We are watching Obamacare collapse under its own weight.
Americans shouldn’t be forced to pay for expensive health insurance that they don’t like, want or need. The replacement legislation calls for eliminating the individual mandate and the employer mandate. I support this provision, as it will protect Americans from having to purchase costly insurance plans that aren’t a good fit for them or their families. I am supportive of a number of other provisions in the American Health Care Act, including eliminating the Medical Device Tax, net investment tax and health insurance taxes.
Additionally, the American Health Care Act includes language to allow children to stay on parents’ plans until age 26 and allows for folks to contribute more money to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). This is a great option for young people or healthy people who may choose to enroll in a high deductible plan, as they are more likely to utilize only the health care services that they need. The American Health Care Act would continue to allow individuals with preexisting conditions to keep their coverage as long as they stay insured. It is important that any replacement plan approved by Congress allows for a transition period, where people can move to different plans without losing health care coverage. Our intention is to also include assurances for guaranteed portability, guaranteed renewability and no lifetime caps on any health insurance policy. This is an important provision that will protect those individuals who need health care coverage the most.
The American Health Care Act allows for competition, choice and incentives to strengthen the insurance markets, promoting competitive pricing.
I value the input of South Dakotans and other stakeholders as we continue to carefully review the American Health Care Act. The bill text can be found at www.readthebill.gop. I encourage those interested to read through it and share with me your thoughts, questions or concerns. Visit my website, www.rounds.senate.gov, to connect with me. Making significant changes to health care in the United States is a great undertaking, and we want to be sure we’re doing it correctly, which may take some time. We won’t be able to repeal and replace Obamacare overnight because we want to do it in a responsible manner. That means taking into account public input and being sure we know exactly what the bill contains before we vote on it.