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ICYMI: What is to be done: Reveal and replace Obamacare

March 31, 2015

Millions of Americans now find themselves in the midst of a massive botched experiment called Obamacare. Nearly every poll-tested health care commitment is evaporating into thin air, leaving us with higher costs and headaches of uncertainty.

Unfortunately, this was both predicted and avoidable. Obamacare was premised on an outmoded, top-down approach to health care – a 40 year-old liberal aspiration, enabled by unified Democrat control of Washington in 2010.

Three years later, the implications are staggering. Despite the White House’s claims to the contrary, we are faced with higher health care costs, many will lose or face substantial change to their insurance coverage, and job creation is threatened as hours and wages are reduced as a result of Obamacare. And the number of people dependent on the government for their health care will expand exponentially, exposing future generations to massive fiscal risks.

As Republicans we find ourselves in a challenging position witnessing this slow motion calamity. Repealing the bungled law and replacing it with a modern, common sense, bottom-up alternative is our preferred approach, which is why the House will vote tomorrow to fully repeal this government takeover of the health care system. Yet, while this vote is important, President Obama’s reelection makes full repeal unlikely – at least for now.

So, if repeal is not a viable short-term option, reveal must be. Dissecting Obamcare’s defective anatomy while offering alternatives is the way to get our health care system back on track. That’s why the two committees we chair will continue our aggressive oversight, exposing Obamacare’s failures – and discussing ways to provide more affordable health care to all Americans.

What have our efforts “revealed” so far?

For starters, Obamacare suffers from its own pre-existing condition: hyper-partisanship. You can’t build an entirely new health care regime using a partisan hammer. But that’s exactly what the Democrats in Congress did, with no Republican votes in the House or Senate.

Enduring health care change must garner some bipartisan support. So, we pledge to focus our efforts on policies that can actually make our health care system work better for families and employers struggling to continue providing benefits for their workers.

Second, the most important health care issue for Americans is cost. Health care costs are far too high for workers and employers. Democrats lost sight of the main priority. Roughly 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance. Instead of figuring out how to offer more affordable options for the uninsured, Obamacare upends the coverage of those that have it.

A recent investigation by one of our committees found that the new health law could drive individual premium increases as high has 400 percent and rates in the small business market could rise by as much as 200 percent.

It is a sad statement on Obamacare that Americans in the individual market will have to hope they only get hit with the average expected premium increase: 96 percent.

Republicans have a lot of affordability ideas. We support the creation of purchasing options across state lines, more flexibility for civic and fraternal associations to provide health insurance, incentives for states that control health care costs, the offering of high deductible plans, the creation of state-based high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions, and medical liability reform. Unlike Obamacare’s top-down mandates, these ideas would all reduce the cost of health care.

Consider this one example. A recent college graduate, Ashley, gets a job at a new start up company. She’s excited about the work. Because the firm is just getting off the ground, it cannot yet afford to offer health care benefits.

Under Obamacare, Ashley is forced to buy a plan with all the bells, whistles, and coverage options designed for a woman two and three times her age who faces very different health care needs. We believe Ashley should have more options available to her and the ability to buy a plan tailored to her needs and her budget.

These affordability policies would allow us to remove one of the most unpopular features of Obamacare – the mandate that everyone must purchase government-approved insurance. We don’t think it is right for Washington to force Ashley to buy a certain type of health care plan or face a tax.

Eliminating the mandate means the massive expansion of Medicaid, as well as most of the subsidies to purchase insurance in health exchanges, would no longer be necessary, saving taxpayers over a trillion dollars over the next ten years.

We are revealing better health care ideas. A bipartisan, affordability first approach, based on encouraging innovation and market-based choices must replace the bungled gambit of the massive old Washington spending and top-down regulatory mandates known as Obamacare.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-MI, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.