U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis: Fixing our broken health care system
— Rodney Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, is a member of the United States House of Representative for the 13th District in Illinois.
The U.S. House recently passed a bill called the American Health Care Act, or the AHCA, to responsibly repeal and replace Obamacare. I was proud to work with President Donald Trump to negotiate this bill and vote to keep my promise of fighting to fix our broken health care system. The AHCA includes reforms that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirms will lower monthly premiums, provide nearly a trillion dollars in tax relief, reduce the deficit by $119 billion, and provide a path for additional reforms to lower costs and offer better coverage for many Americans.
But you cannot fully understand this legislation without first reviewing why we needed to pass it in the first place.
Obamacare was passed in 2010 because our health care system wasn’t working for many Americans — but the law got it wrong, and now it’s collapsing. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress had seven years to fix Obamacare through regulatory reforms, which don’t require congressional approval, but failed because the law is fundamentally flawed. We have a responsibility to the American people to fix it. If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have ideas to accomplish this, I am willing to work with them. However, doing nothing is not an option.
Eighteen of the 23 insurance co-ops set up by Obamacare have failed, costing taxpayers more than $1.7 billion in federal loans that will never be paid back. Insurance companies continue to exit the exchanges, which has led to 75 percent of Illinois having only one or two insurers as options in the marketplace, driving up costs each year.
Since 2013, Illinois has seen premiums increase by 108 percent and people’s out-of-pocket costs have increased by an average of 64 percent nationally. This is not affordable or sustainable for anyone.
It was estimated that 21 million individuals would sign up for Obamacare by 2016, but in reality, only about half that enrolled. People have done the math and found that it’s cheaper to pay a penalty than purchase costly insurance, leaving 29 million people uninsured and millions more who can’t afford to use the insurance they have. We can do better.
While the AHCA does many things to lower costs and increase options, it’s limited because of budgetary rules in the Senate. We have already passed several additional bills, including ones to increase opportunities for group insurance by allowing small businesses, as well as associations like AARP, to band together to offer plans. We will continue to pass bills to fix our broken health care system and work with the administration to stabilize the market, but the AHCA is the first step.
There are many falsehoods about the AHCA that I believe are important to correct. I encourage everyone to go to readthebill.gop to find the facts. These are just a few of the most egregious claims.
The first is that this bill would deny coverage to 129 million people with pre-existing health conditions and classify rape as a pre-existing condition. Both are completely false and have been given Four Pinocchios by the Washington Post. As the husband of a cancer survivor, these scare tactics and false claims are offensive and completely irresponsible.
The second claims that Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), like maternity care, mental health and preventative care, will not be covered in Illinois. The same EHBs under Obamacare remain in the AHCA. Federal standards would only change if a state who applies for and is granted a waiver because they’ve proven that it will lower costs and increase coverage. States like Illinois already mandate through state law that these three benefits be covered — as well as 15 additional pages of benefits.
The third false claim I hear most is that people will have their health coverage ripped away from them. The AHCA ensures people already enrolled under Medicaid expansion can keep their coverage. However, if their situation improves, the bill provides age and income-based monthly tax credits to help them buy insurance up front. Medicaid is a safety net provided for the most vulnerable but now 1 in 4 people in Illinois are on Medicaid and 44 percent of the expanded population are males ages 19 to 34. This is putting a strain on the system and preventing Medicaid from helping those who need it most.
It’s time to set politics aside, stop with the rhetoric, and work together to fix our broken health care system.
View the original online here.