After ruling, repeal and replace healthcare law


For many people, Mondays have now become the most highly anticipated day of the week. Americans across the country are looking to the Supreme Court each Monday at 10 a.m. to see how it will rule on the president’s healthcare law. After more than two years of enduring the costs and consequences of the law, a majority of the American people wants the court to throw out this failed and unconstitutional law.

The court could choose to uphold the entire law, strike down the entire law or strike part of the law — the individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid. If any part stays in place, Republicans are committed to repealing the president’s failed healthcare law and replacing it with real reforms that actually improve care for Americans of all ages.

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The reforms that replace the president’s healthcare law should be done step by step. We refuse to put forward another 2,700-page bill that transfers power from patients to Washington bureaucrats. Our plan will include four important principles.

First, we’ve got to lower the costs of healthcare. Though President Obama and Democrats in Congress promised their bill would lower the costs of care, it has not and will not.

Their plan was short on reforms and long on accounting gimmicks and empty promises.

Average family premiums have risen 19 percent since Obama took office. The American people can’t afford for this to continue, and Washington shouldn’t accept it.

Second, we need to put patients and providers back in charge. We must return our focus to where it should be — keeping people healthy. We do that by making sure people have the information, incentives and ability to make better choices in their care.

Insurers need to be free to provide individualized incentives — like premium tax breaks — that encourage healthy behavior. Competition can help assure people receive the best care and service. People should be able to own their health insurance policies and get the same tax breaks that businesses get when paying for insurance. We should also remove the red tape that prevents Americans from buying health insurance across state lines.

Third, we should take reasonable steps that genuinely help reduce the number of uninsured Americans. The president’s healthcare law tried to expand coverage by forcing millions of people onto overburdened Medicaid rolls. Already nearly half of all doctors won’t see patients on Medicaid because of the program’s low reimbursement rates. The Medicaid card might provide what the president calls coverage, but it doesn’t provide what the patient calls care.

We could also increase coverage by letting small businesses pool together in order to offer health insurance to their employees.

Fourth, we must finally end the lawsuit abuse that leads doctors to practice defensive medicine by ordering expensive and unnecessary tests. When Congress was debating the president’s healthcare bill, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean admitted that lawsuit reform was not included because “the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers.” That frank admission sums up why the president’s healthcare law has been such an unpopular failure. Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Democrats cut deals to protect special interests.

As a practicing physician for 25 years, I have seen firsthand many of the problems with this country’s healthcare system and the president’s law. Instead of acknowledging these problems, the Obama administration continues to spin them. The administration recently revealed that it had signed a $20 million contract with a public relations firm to promote this flawed law ahead of the election. The American public wants real solutions to the problems of healthcare — not more press releases and propaganda paid for with their tax dollars.

Americans are now looking to the Supreme Court to help put them back in control of their own healthcare. Republicans are ready to make sure that Americans are finally able to get the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at a lower cost. The Supreme Court’s ruling will give our country another opportunity to make our healthcare system more effective, more efficient and more accountable.

Barrasso, a physician, is chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

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