Repeal and Replace: The Time is Now
By Rep. John Ratcliffe
As Congress engages in the biggest health care debate of our time, I’m humbled to be the one voice for more than 700,000 Texans as we navigate this important legislative challenge.
Let’s start by acknowledging an undeniable truth – Obamacare is failing. When you consider the facts, this isn’t up for debate.
The average Obamacare premium skyrocketed by a whopping 25 percent over this past year, a far cry from the “$2,500 reduction” former President Obama promised.
Nearly one third of all counties in America now only have one insurer to choose from – clear evidence that the onerous mandates and regulatory framework of Obamacare’s failed architecture are stifling choice and competition. Increasingly, more health insurers are seeing the writing on the wall, and have been dropping out of the exchanges as a result. This trend set off the so-called “death spiral” that so many Republicans warned of years ago.
Worse yet – the average monthly deductible increased in 41 states last year, with 17 of those facing rate increases in the double digits. This is creating a whole new class of Americans who technically have insurance – but they can’t afford to use it. This problem is exacerbated by the hundreds of billions of dollars of Obamacare taxes levied on the middle class.
And let’s not forget about the 6 million Americans who were forced off their insurance plans they liked and forced away from doctors they trusted. “If you like your health plan, you can keep it,” became cruel irony for these undeserving victims.
Beyond this, Obamacare’s employer mandate forced business owners to cut back their employees’ hours and hire fewer workers – eliminating jobs all across the country.
For the last four elections, Republicans have run on a platform of repealing Obamacare and restoring sanity to our health care system through sensible, market-based reforms that reduce costs and expand access. Hillary Clinton represented an opposite path. She wanted to double down on Obamacare and set the stage for a European-style single payer system.
The American people rose up and said no. By electing a unified Republican government they signaled that the status quo was simply no longer acceptable. In the Fourth District of Texas, which I’m privileged to represent, the contrast was especially stark. More than 76 percent of people rejected Hillary Clinton’s dangerous path of doubling down on a broken law.
In his recent joint address to Congress, President Trump said, “Obamacare is collapsing, and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice, it is a necessity.” I couldn’t agree more.
Looking forward from this juncture, my pledge to you is simple. I won’t forget why I was elected. I won’t forget your clear demand.
As various iterations of Obamacare repeal and replace legislation are drafted and amended over the coming weeks, I’ll do something the Democrats failed to do in 2009 – actually read the legislation before it’s brought up for a vote.
I can’t promise the process will be easy. After all, health care represents about one sixth of our economy, or $3 trillion. Efforts to fundamentally reform such a massive industry are never going to have linear progress. But I’m confident that our hard work will ultimately result in the best outcome for the American people.
I’ll also stand by a core set of principles to guide my involvement in this process:
The employer and individual mandates must be repealed. Mandating that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty from the IRS was never going to be the right solution.
The tax burden on American families and businesses must be drastically reduced.
American families must be given more flexibility to be in control of their health care spending through tools such as Health Savings Accounts.
Market forces to control costs must be injected into this broken industry. The bottom line is that health care in America is simply too expensive, and runaway spending must be controlled through more choice and competition.
While these are my guiding principles in this important debate, I also recognize no Obamacare replacement legislation will be a silver bullet. Health care in America was broken even before Obamacare made it much worse, and as a lawmaker I’m committed to continue advancing sensible, conservative health care reforms on behalf of the American people.