America’s medical practices and healthcare providers are constantly improving, as evidenced by our nation’s steady increase in average life expectancy. As Alaskans and Americans live longer, the demand for qualified health providers will continue to grow. Likewise, as medical devices and healthcare practices become more advanced, the cost of services will increase. As a nation, we have found ourselves in a perfect storm; a rising shortage of doctors and ballooning health insurance premiums that threaten access to care for all Americans.
This was a problem we all recognized and many wanted to act upon, including President Obama. Unfortunately, the widespread, pass now-read later approach of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, was the wrong one to take.
Many of my colleagues and I supported elements of the ACA, including:
- Guaranteeing access to insurance for patients with preexisting conditions;
- Allowing children to stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until age 26;
- Allowing certain insurers to sell policies across state lines;
- Increasing funding to community health clinics.
These proposals had bipartisan support and should have been introduced individually, as smaller bills that the American people and Congress could have fully understood. Instead, the ACA was passed and signed into law without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate. Throughout the process, we feared that this massive two thousand-page federal overhaul of the American healthcare system would cause more harm than good. Tragically, we were proven right.
As a result, healthcare is one of the largest drivers of debt for American households and the nation. To combat this economic downturn, I have committed to working with my colleagues in both parties to target the ACA in its entirety, and in a piece by piece approach.
Recently, Congress has been able to push back against some of the most egregious portions of the law, including delaying the “Cadillac plan tax”, medical device tax, and insurance plan taxes. Since 2011, the president has signed at least 15 House bills that dismantle, defund, and repeal parts of his health care law, including:
Elimination of the Independent Payment Advisory Board
- Repeal of the Medical Device Tax
- Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, which halts changes to what’s considered “small employer” within ACA.
- Hire More Heroes Act, which allows employers to exclude employees receiving coverage under TRICARE or the VA from counting against the employer mandate.
Although Congress has been able to secure meaningful reforms to Obamacare, much work is still needed. I believe we must continue to seek relief for American families and small businesses by repealing a long list of new taxes created under the law, including the individual mandate and employer mandate. Next, we must consult healthcare providers and patients to identify and eliminate harmful Obamacare regulations that continue to bury doctors and nurses in red tape. Finally, we must increase funding for Graduate Medical Education, with a special emphasis on general practice and family medicine, to combat the impending physician shortage.
We as lawmakers must strive for a limited federal role, empower states and localities to provide the right type of care for their residents at the cheapest price. We must eliminate new ACA taxes so Americans can use more of their hard-earned paycheck to purchase the care they need. I remain committed to making healthcare more affordable, accessible, and portable for all Alaskans.
The “Affordable Care Act” was a flawed government remake of healthcare built on broken promises and deceit. Understandably, it has never been popular with the American people because it has increased their costs and reduced their care.
Alaska is among the states with the highest healthcare costs and continues to face skyrocketing premium increases, which in 2016 were upwards of 40%. Insurance companies have been driven out of the state, with only one remaining in the individual marketplace.
I continue to support the full repeal of Obamacare and am focused on legislative efforts that restore a level of financial feasibility for healthcare and empower people to make their own healthcare choices. By achieving common sense, patient centered reforms, I believe American families, patients, doctors and small businesses will have the relief and flexibility they deserve. These efforts include targeted tax credits to help small businesses and individuals buy healthcare, medical malpractice reform, increased transparency and improving protections to help Americans with pre-existing conditions.
On January 6, 2016, the House approved H.R. 3762, a bill to repeal the most egregious provisions and taxes at the heart of the President’s healthcare law, including penalties for the individual and employer mandate. The passage of H.R. 3762 marked the first time Congress sent legislation to the President’s desk to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, the President vetoed these efforts, choosing to protect his legacy rather than the American people.
Alaska’s Insurance Marketplace
With Moda Health Plan’s departure in 2017– along with Aetna, Assurant Health and State Farm last year – Alaska becomes only the second state in the nation with one carrier on the individual marketplace. Beyond the marketplace and competition concerns this mass exodus creates, this announcement also raises serious questions to the overall viability of our current healthcare system in Alaska and across the nation.
I remain committed to providing Alaskans with relief and protection from the President’s overbearing healthcare law; efforts that include the successful enactment of legislation that repeal or delay some of the law’s most egregious requirements. With skyrocketing premiums in Alaska, I continue to promote common sense measures that support competition and choice, such as efforts to allow Americans to purchase healthcare across state lines.