Weekly Column: The (Un)Affordable Care Act
The skyrocketing cost of healthcare has made the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unaffordable for many Americans. The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that in 2017, premiums will rise an average of 25 percent for those covered on plans under the ACA. South Dakotans have it even worse: those of us covered under the ACA will see insurance rates increase by nearly 37 percent, according to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.
The ACA was intended to provide all Americans with quality, low-cost health care but instead it has had the opposite effect. More and more insurers are declining to participate in the exchange, leaving consumers with few options ahead of this fall’s open enrollment period. Despite the growing problems surrounding the ACA, the president continues to maintain that the law has been a success. The hundreds of South Dakotans who call my office telling me that they have to choose between paying outrageous rates or pay a fine to forgo healthcare coverage all together—just so they can afford to pay their mortgage—would probably disagree.
I have repeatedly called for the ACA to be repealed and replaced with a patient-centered, market-based plan that is truly affordable for all Americans. This can be achieved by enacting transparent, step-by-step reforms. I support common-sense initiatives, like expanding Health Savings Accounts and creating pools, such as the Multiple Employers Welfare Trust, in which small businesses can unite to secure better rates. The worst parts of the ACA, such as the employer mandate, individual mandate and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, should not be included in a replacement plan.
We can cut costs by reforming medical liability laws as well. Our current system encourages frivolous lawsuits which come at a high cost to doctors, taxpayers and truly injured patients who deserve timely compensation. Lastly, we must hold insurance companies more accountable by increasing transparency, standardizing paperwork and helping those with pre-existing conditions maintain access to care.
We’ve long suspected that the ACA would eventually crumble under its own weight, and now that is exactly what is happening. Americans can no longer afford to abide by this costly law. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to replace the ACA with a plan that is effective and affordable for all Americans.
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