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Friday, April 21, 2017
Republicans Talk: Keeping Health Care Promises
The Republican referendum on putting forth a domestic agenda should also include keeping promises. It is not the Freedom Caucus or senators like Mike Lee and Rand Paul who are obstructionists, but those in leadership. Educated voters want to make sure the wool was not pulled over their eyes, especially with health care reform. With this in mind, American Thinker interviewed three members of the Freedom Caucus as well as Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) cosponsored with Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) the Obamacare Replacement Act. He warns Republicans, "George Will said in an article that the Freedom Caucus received a lot of heat but are essentially saving the Republican Party from itself, considering the leadership plan only had 17% support. People are amazingly well informed on choices relevant to their lives and on choices they have some degree of control over. If they have a degree of ownership, they will put the time into the research."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and company should take heed and not follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Gruber, who called the American people too stupid to understand health insurance. Congressman Sanford believes that the Ryan plan was based on just checking the box. What the Republican leadership wanted to do was ram their bill down Americans' throats, offering a binary choice of their bill or Obamacare. Riding in to save the day, the Freedom Caucus went out on the Capitol steps and reminded everyone that Donald Trump would never take the first bid on a real estate deal. Negotiation should be the name of the game, considering that Americans will not wait four years to see lower costs.
Congressman Sanford told American Thinker, "Republicans are heading for a policy and political blunder. It is not a ten-year window, but a two-year time line that we must get something accomplished that will lower costs with premiums in the individual marketplace. Otherwise, we will lose the House, with Nancy Pelosi calling the shots on a single-payer system."
On the other hand, David Smick, an economist under Ronald Reagan, believes that something should be passed to get some momentum, and then, in the 2018 congressional elections, Republicans can show how the Democrats were obstructionists and not supportive of popular proposals such as buying insurance across state lines.
Senator Mike Lee also believes that the Republicans need a good plan. He is confident that Americans still want to repeal Obamacare. "We need to ask the question: Is your health care better or worse today than seven years ago, when the law was enacted? I think most Americans would answer it is worse. We as Republicans need to address the rising costs of health care. I am not on board with the Ryan bill and am working on something that will harness free markets, bringing down costs and improving quality. But Americans will need patience and need to remember it took seven years to get to where we are at now. Hopefully, it will not take seven years to get us out."
So what are the points that are important to supporters of the Freedom Caucus?
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told American Thinker, "We must push the envelope. We want to get rid of community ratings and include flexible age categories. There should be health savings accounts, keeping your child on your health insurance until age 26, and portability. Regarding the high-risk pool, we should support something similar to what Maine has done. Those with serious illnesses would not have their premiums raised, but [be] moved into the high-risk pool anonymously, where the taxpayer will help out. There should be reform of how Medicaid operates with a work requirement for the Medicaid expansion population. Pre-existing conditions should be covered, which is why we all support Congressman Sanford's replacement legislation. It says if you maintained consecutive coverage, you will not be denied; otherwise, you must wait two years to have that pre-existing condition covered. You have to enroll. On the other hand, you can't have people wait until they get sick and expect to be covered. It is like wanting to buy fire insurance while your house is burning up. The idea is to reward individual responsibility."
The Obamacare Replacement Act is patient-centered, impacts pricing, and maximizes individual choice. The bill expands Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow small businesses and individuals to band together, even across state lines, through membership in an association to provide health coverage for their families and employees. By utilizing economies of scale and increased leverage, these groups are empowered to negotiate for lower costs and protection of pre-existing conditions. Currently, this is illegal under the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Sanford describes it: "If you had a $200,000 house, you should not be forced to buy a $1.5-million policy. We want people to pick at the 'buffet' what works for them regarding their health care needs."
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) sarcastically calls the Ryan bill "a tax bill. It is Obamacare with a slightly different face. It was done to get the tax credits to be used for tax reform. With the Ryan bill, there is no way you will get lower premiums because it is not market-driven. What I want is to repeal the 1945 exception given to health insurance companies that exempts them from the anti-trust laws and has allowed them to collude. Break up the insurance companies' monopolies, where they own the hospital, doctor, and the geographic area. Currently, the health care insurance is static and not dynamic."
Unfortunately, the Ryan bill and the Sanford bill do not address what happens to someone who must move from a group policy to an individual policy. A person who works for an employer who covers them and is fired or retires must pay COBRA. But going on COBRA nearly doubles the insurance costs to the individual. These people have a bad and worse-case scenario. What should be considered is an aspect of portability that links employment and individual plans, resulting in parity between the individual and employer markets. This should be an important consideration, given the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is approaching retirement age.
Congressman Sanford and others interviewed want Americans to understand that deliberations are in earnest right now and that within the next month or so, there should be a bill that will move forward from the House to the Senate. It appears that the Freedom Caucus are not the obstructionists, but are carrying the torch to ensure that the bill put forward makes health insurance affordable again.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.