Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New direction needed in health care


By SEN. MIKE CRAPO


   I  recently shared in the Senate some of the infuriating experiences of Idahoans who are among the more than 3 million Americans now losing health care coverage and facing much higher premiums due to the Affordable Care Act.  The promises of the flawed health care law are nothing like the realities.  The American people deserve health care reform with permanent solutions to the drops in coverage, rising premiums and other problems, not temporary fixes that exacerbate public confusion about Obamacare.  We must replace the failed policies with true reforms that are in the best interest of the American people.    
    Leading up to enactment of Obamacare there was much debate on health care alternatives.  Most agreed then, and continue to agree, that reforms are needed.  There are many areas of bipartisan agreement in health care reform.  Unfortunately, many of the reasonable reforms were obstructed.  What we have now are wrong-headed policies based on misguided beliefs that government bureaucracy would improve health care.  Obviously it does not. 
    We must turn to achievable reforms that result in the affordable health care and improved access to quality care that Americans want and deserve.  We need to start over with reforms that address specific issues that would make a positive difference for all Americans.  A successful health care system would enable Americans to choose plans that fit specific needs and those of their families.  It would permit insurance companies to compete across state lines; allow small businesses to collaborate to negotiate group insurance rates; require pricing disclosures from health care providers to promote a competitive, consumer-driven market; and offer incentives for patients and the private sector to create wellness programs and other efficiencies in health care delivery. 
     Reforms should not come at the expense of hardworking Americans.  We need reform that realigns payment incentives toward outcomes, not the number of procedures; promotes wellness and prevention programs; encourages small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance; allows insurance companies to sell across state lines to increase competition; and eliminates waste, fraud and abuse that contribute to health care’s rising costs.  We should have consumer-driven initiatives that allow individuals to find benefit options that best meet their needs.  For example, expanding effective Health Savings Accounts would do so without increasing taxes or expanding the government. 
    Instead of giving the government more power over health care, individual patients must have more control, choice and information to make their health care decisions.  We need to renew focus on health care reforms that will work and have broad public support without the predicted failures that are inherent in Obamacare.
    Repealing and replacing the failed policies with actual reforms can help improve the situation faced by millions of Americans.  Take Jennifer, from Salmon, whose current health care coverage costs her family $375 per month, but is no longer available under the health care law.  The next available plan costs $900 per month with a $10,000 deductible.  Others like Kelly from Boise, another hardworking mother, are considering taking the penalty fine for being uninsured under the new law as it will be a more feasible option for their family.  There are just too many of these stories. 
     I will continue to urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, along with President Obama, to carefully listen to the American people and work together to defund and repeal every element of Obamacare that proves unworkable.  We all agreed when Obamacare was enacted that health care reforms are needed.  We need to go in a new direction that replaces the failed policies with true reforms that represent the will of the American people.


    Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Idaho.
 




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