Our health care system is critical to our wellbeing and way of life. As Alaskans and Americans live longer, the demand for qualified health providers will continue to grow. Likewise, as medical devices and health care practices become more advanced, the cost of services can 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 Americans.
The “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was a flawed government remake of health care built on broken promises that led to inferior outcomes. Then President Obama promised Americans that the average family would save $2,500 per year and that they could keep their current health plans and doctors if they liked them, none of which was shown to be true. Further, Alaska has some of the highest health costs in the national and was hit with huge premium increases in the individual market and the loss of all but one insurer.
On May 4, 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, which would have begun a transition away from Obamacare by repealing government mandates and taxes while retaining provisions I wanted to see preserved including protections for preexisting conditions, allowing dependents under 26 to remain on their parent’s plans, no limits on lifetime caps, and more. I was among those voting in favor of passage. However, the Senate was unfortunately unable to find a path forward when the legislation was referred to that chamber. There was progress made in December of 2017 with the repeal of the individual mandate to buy insurance, which I always considered one of the worst provisions, was repealed as part of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.