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ICYMI- Chairman Brady USA Today Op-ed: “Our GOP plan to replace Obamacare”

June 22, 2016

Our GOP plan to replace Obamacare
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX)
USA Today
June 22, 2016

Decisions about our health care are some of the most personal choices we make throughout our lives. And these decisions — what type of insurance to have, which doctors, the right treatments and medicines — change throughout our lives. They are different leaving college than as a parent or as we enter our retirement years.

We need a new 21st century health care system that is affordable and flexible enough to move with us as we move through life – no matter our age or circumstance.

Instead, Americans today are trapped in a system where bureaucrats in Washington make our health care choices for us. Under Obamacare — which placed 159 federal agencies, commissions and bureaucracies between patients and doctors — patients not only face dramatically higher health care costs, they’ve also lost the power to choose the options right for them.

Millions of Americans have been forced to pay more for an inadequate plan with fewer options for treatment. And local businesses across the country have been forced to reduce their employees’ hours or hold off on hiring new workers to circumvent one of the law’s most expensive and onerous policies, the “employer mandate.”

House Republicans know there is a better way.

Today, for the first time since the president’s health care plan was signed into law, House Republicans are unveiling a road map for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a plan that puts patients – not Washington bureaucrats – in charge of their health.

Our plan removes the unnecessary taxes, mandates, and regulations that drive up costs and reduce quality. We promote lower premiums, choice, and competition to help individuals and employers access the most affordable, highest-quality health care options.

We decrease premium rates by double digits in the individual market, increase flexibility for employers in the job-based insurance market, and we preserve patient protections like allowing dependents to say on their parents’ plan until they are 26; prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage to patients based on pre-existing conditions; and lifting lifetime caps on medical care. And we also modernize Medicaid and empower states with the flexibility they need to ensure the most vulnerable patients have access to quality, affordable care.

Under our plan, patients shopping for insurance or doctors will not be bound by one government-mandated insurance market or one broken website. They will not be locked into a certain job just to stay covered.

Instead, patients will have access to health care products they need, with premium costs they can afford, and support to take with them wherever they want to go.

Think of our plan like a health care backpack. One filled with the tools you need to control your health care in the 21st century. One that goes with you from job to job, state to state, home to raise a family or start a businesses, and into your retirement years if you like it.

You decide what to put in the backpack. You control it. And you take it with you throughout your life.

Unlike Obamacare, our plan provides every American access to financial support for an insurance plan of their choosing.

Americans who receive their insurance coverage through their employer can continue to do so. We will preserve this popular option. But for those who don’t have that option, our plan provides an advanceable, refundable tax credit – in other words, a monthly portable payment – you can use to get a plan that fits your circumstance. It is health care freedom Americans haven’t experienced before.

Our plan also increases access to consumer-directed accounts — for example, a Health Savings Account — that can be used for other health care expenses, like over-the-counter medicines or dental and vision care. These accounts are tied directly to you, as the consumer, so you can decide how best to spend your money.

To make these benefits truly portable and patient-focused, our plan ensures patients can access and control their personal medical records. By spurring innovation and breaking down unnecessary barriers, our plan brings the current electronic health system into the 21st century, giving patients the flexibility needed to seek out care when and where they want it.

Under our plan, all Americans will be able to fill their “backpack” with an insurance option, consumer-directed account, and personal medical records that best meet their needs. But we also need to make sure Americans have a backpack that fits them at all ages and stages of life.

Right now, the program millions of seniors rely on for access to health care is not working as well as it should be. And Obamacare’s policies have only made the problems worse. Our plan repeals Obamacare’s most egregious Medicare policies and reinvests in cost-effective policies proven to spur competition and increase quality service and options for seniors. Just as important, it puts the program back on a sustainable path so it will be there for our children and grandchildren.

We know that a single 28-year-old in Washington, D.C., a family of four in Huntsville, Texas, and a retired grandpa in Tampa, Fla. have very different health care needs. But we also know that, regardless of their needs, everybody deserves to have the same access to a robust and vibrant health care market with affordable, quality options.

Americans have asked for years for an alternative to Obamacare. Commonsense, portable, affordable, personalized, high-quality health care is our answer.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.