A better way towards American health care reform

While the American health care system has been one of the best in the world, there is little doubt that our current system is in need of reform.  Unfortunately, the president’s government-run, mandate-based approach to health reform has failed to uphold its promise, and actually made things worse.  An honest review of the history of health care in our nation shows that the system was in need of reform prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Simply repealing the president’s health care law is not enough.

There is a better way.

Conservatives recognize that patient-centered reforms rooted in free markets are the best way to lower costs and solve problems in our health care system.  That is why the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is proud to bring forward a pragmatic, practical, and portable free-market alternative to the current health care system without the unworkable taxes and mandates forced on American families through the president’s health care law.  We must remove the IRS and other Washington bureaucrats who President Obama puts between doctors and patients.

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Drafted by a broad cross-section of the RSC, including several practicing doctors and small business leaders, the American Health Care Reform Act repeals the president’s law and replaces it with commonsense reforms that solve actual problems.  At its core, our reform bill promotes programs that have proven successful at lowering costs, levels the playing field for individuals and families, and increases access to affordable health insurance.

Arguably, the tax treatment of health care is the greatest inequality in the health care market today.  Currently, individuals who obtain health insurance through their employer are treated far better than those who purchase insurance on their own.  It’s time to level the playing field.  This bill does that by equalizing the tax treatment of health insurance, regardless of where Americans purchase it, while protecting the incentive for employers to provide insurance to their employees.  By offering a standard deduction to any taxpayer who purchases health insurance, the RSC’s American Health Care Reform Act ensures that all Americans will have more choices to pick the best health plan for their family.  The result will mean a net tax cut for the vast majority of Americans.

Our common-sense plan encourages free-market principles by expanding access to health savings accounts, which have proven extraordinarily successful and allow individuals to contribute pre-tax dollars to an account which they own.  Our bill allows small businesses to pool together their resources through association health plans, giving businesses and community groups, such as local Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs, the chance to offer their members the same buying power as large corporations.  Additionally, our bill provides greater flexibility by allowing people to purchase health insurance across state lines.  These sensible provisions will greatly increase access so families have better options to purchase quality health care at lower costs.

One of the greatest drivers of health care costs today is defensive medicine.  Our plan reforms medical liability laws.  Maintaining a high standard of protection for patients, while guarding against frivolous lawsuits by overzealous trial lawyers, is a crucial step to providing doctors the ability to practice medicine without the enormous burdens of a broken malpractice system.

We recognize that we have a duty to protect those with pre-existing conditions.  Our bill provides a practical solution to ensuring that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to affordable health insurance by putting our money where our mouth is and bolstering existing state-based high risk pools.

Each day, the economic fallout from Obama’s health care law gets worse, as even union bosses are now complaining that the ACA is destroying the 40-hour work week and the Senate author of ACA has called it a ‘train-wreck’.  Businesses of every size are cutting employee hours and are dropping coverage for families as uncertainty in our health care system increases. Unworkable mandates, taxes, and fees are the wrong answer to solving the health care crisis that looms over our nation.

We can lower health care costs and fix real problems without a government-run system that puts unelected Washington bureaucrats between you and your doctor.  It starts with repealing Obama’s unworkable law and replacing it with real reforms that have been proven to work in the real world.   The RSC’s American Health Care Reform Act is a better way.

Scalise represents Louisiana's 1st Congressional District and is chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans. Roe, a physician, represents Tennessee's 1st Congressional District and is chairman of the RSC's Health Care Working Group.

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