The debate over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is heated. There are millions of passionate voices on both sides that believe the wrong course of action could have catastrophic consequences.
Americans should have a health care system with low costs and that provides access. That is why, as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I played a key role in passing a resolution that will provide for the repeal of Obamacare. As we improve the system there will be a stable transition period in which those with insurance under Obamacare will not lose access to health care coverage.
Obamacare is not sustainable. After more than six years, 28 million people remain uninsured. Insurance markets are failing. Premiums are soaring. Thousands of Wyomingites have complained to me their health care options are worse because of the flawed law. They and millions of other Americans have demanded that we repeal Obamacare.
The law provided assistance to some people who had no coverage; however, it has simultaneously made insurance across all sectors more expensive. In Wyoming and many parts of the country, Obamacare created an environment of instability in the insurance marketplace. In our state, we lost one out of only two insurers on the individual market, WINhealth, in large part because the law’s economics do not work long-term.
It would be irresponsible to ignore the realities of this law. The Senate passed the resolution to start the repeal of Obamacare on Jan. 12, and now the committees with jurisdiction will take the next steps to ensure Congress can vote on a repeal at a later date.
We are discussing people’s health care and therefore their very lives. Please don’t accept the political talking points that this is just a way for Republicans to kick people off of their health care. We will work to ensure that any repeal of the law will include a stable transition period in which those with insurance will not lose access to health care coverage. There are half a dozen or more serious proposals that would improve our health care system that we need to consider. I had a proposal even before Obamacare that would have made critical reforms to how health insurance works. Now we’ve taken the first step to get rid of the bad system.
Consider that while the Obama administration has claimed Obamacare has insured 20 million people, we know that data is wrong. In reality the number is likely closer to 14 million, with 84 percent of them just being added to Medicaid. But even that is misleading because two-thirds of those added to Medicaid were already eligible before the law passed.
More than half of the “new people” who gained health care under Obamacare were already eligible, they just didn’t know it.
I am not seeking to take away health care from folks who like what they have now. My colleagues and I will look to protect them as we take the next step in health reform. Don’t expect a 2,700-page government health care plan, though. We will work to repair the damaged insurance markets and provide stability for people. Mandating a one-size-fits-all health insurance plan doesn’t make sense. We have seen six years of out–of-control cost increases that have accompanied it.
The GOP did not put Obamacare in place. We’ve been prevented from making changes until now, but we are committed to taking the steps to confront the hard reality that this law has, and is, failing millions, and costing billions. We want to create a better system.
I am on the committees that will be working on changes (Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committees) and my goal will be to pass a step-by-step reform to our health care system that gives Americans access to quality, patient-centered affordable care. We will be able to craft a new set of reforms, listening carefully to the advice of the millions of affected Americans and to make sure that we proceed wisely and do no harm. I know senators on the other side of the aisle share the goal of a robust health care system for hardworking families, and I hope that they will work together with us to find common ground that delivers more choices and lower costs.