Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
I had the opportunity to call attention to the negative effects of Obamacare on Idahoans and the need to enact a true solution through a recent speech delivered from the Senate floor.
The health care situation is much worse than predicted by those of us who tried to prevent Obamacare from becoming law six years ago. The President mangled the 2013 rollout of the Obamacare exchanges and has repeatedly delayed and selectively interpreted key parts of the law because of predictable problems and to advance political interests. The President or a top administrative official stated 37 times, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." Since then, millions of cancellation notices have been sent out, including over 100,000 in Idaho alone in 2013. In January, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) updated its estimate of the effects of the Health Care Law, indicating that over 10 million individuals will lose their employer-based health care coverage by 2021. Further, CBO estimates the law will leave 31 million people uninsured, up from its original 2011 forecast of 23 million people.
Health care premiums have skyrocketed. For the most recent open enrollment period, the average premium increase for mid-level silver plans on the federal exchange is 7.5 percent, more than triple last year's increase. In Idaho, which operates a state exchange, the average premium increase for a BlueCross Idaho plan is 23 percent. The average increase for a Regence BlueShield of Idaho Plan is 10 percent. The average premium increase for a SelectHealth plan is 14 percent. This is after year after year of increasing health care premiums. The justification from the insurers: This is the first year prices are based on post-Obamacare patients, enrollment costs and mandates; and premiums are skyrocketing.
The following are two examples of the experiences of Idahoans:
Daniel, from Meridian is the sole provider for his family. His employer offers health coverage, but the estimated cost of premiums for his family would be over $900 per month. He chose to purchase insurance from the exchange, but decided the coverage was not worth a $500 per month premium and an $8,000 deductible.
Bill, a small business owner from Boise purchases his own health insurance and provides coverage to his 45 employees. He saw his premiums increase by 7 percent in 2014, by 12 percent in 2015 and was recently notified by his insurance company that premiums will increase by 25.6 percent in 2016.
Common-sense solutions exist that will drive down the cost of health care in the United States and provide better access to quality care for all Americans without the predicted failures inherent in Obamacare. These solutions include realigning payment incentives toward patient outcomes rather than the number of procedures administered; promoting wellness and prevention programs; encouraging small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance; allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines to increase competition; and eliminating the waste, fraud and abuse that contribute to the rising cost of health care. Additionally, consumer-driven initiatives would allow individuals to find benefit options that best meet their needs. For example, expanding effective and popular Health Savings Accounts would do so without increasing taxes or expanding the government.
Congress must place on the President's desk a solution, a repeal of these onerous and misguided health care policies and a reform of our health care system that will achieve the true objectives that Americans request: Helping to get a proper health care delivery system with a market-based delivery foundation that will help to reduce costs, increase the quality of care and expand access to care across this country.
Senator Crapo's floor speech can be accessed through his official website, at https://www.crapo.senate.gov/media/newsreleases/release_full.cfm?id=361822.
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