March 05, 2018

Weekly Column: Improving Access To Affordable And Quality Health Care

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

One central and undeniable fact remains throughout health care debates—our current system is badly broken.  Repealing and replacing Obamacare remains a need to fully address its broken promises—rising premiums and costs, disappearing options and the inability of many Americans to keep their preferred providers to name a few.  In the meantime, it just makes sense to look for ways to find consensus on areas where we can chip away at Obamacare failures and improve access to affordable and quality health care. 

The Administration has taken a series of steps to mitigate the negative effects of Obamacare and offer Americans additional health care options.  In January, the U.S. Department of Labor released a proposal to allow small businesses to pool together to offer employer-based health insurance through association health plans.  More recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed short-term plans to allow consumers to remain on their chosen plan for up to a year.  These efforts will create needed competition in the market and offer individuals the opportunity to select from a variety of health care options to find the plan that truly fits their needs.

With enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress eliminated the Obamacare individual mandate penalty beginning January 1, 2019.  Obamacare is no longer compulsory and now forces insurers to attract customers based on plan offerings rather than relying on mandated participation.  We also delayed several of the premium-increasing and job-stifling Obamacare taxes in recent legislation.

While we work on the federal level, Idaho and other states continue to debate innovative solutions to our failing individual market.  The states understand that additional federal resources or requirements are just temporary solutions to an increasingly unstable health care system.  As Congress continues to work toward repealing and replacing Obamacare, Idaho is working to provide immediate access to affordable, quality health care for all Idahoans.

Obamacare has resulted in skyrocketing premiums and millions of policy cancellation notices leaving Americans uninsured.  Repeal of these onerous and misguided health care policies and reform of our health care system will help to achieve the true objectives that Americans request—a market-based health care delivery system that will help to reduce costs, increase the quality of care and expand access to care across this country. 

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