Let’s find bipartisan solution to rising health care costs
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Providing Americans with access to quality, affordable health care is not a partisan issue. The need to curb rising health care costs is something both sides of the aisle agree on. Unfortunately, partisan politics have gotten in the way of lawmakers actually doing something about it.

But, as we write this, we’re optimistic that lawmakers can take action to improve our health care system. Together, we can make sure that more families see lower health care costs.

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One way Republicans and Democrats can act right now is to prevent the return of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Tax, or HIT.

The HIT jeopardizes the progress we have made in improving access to quality, affordable health care by increasing premiums for hard-working families and seniors. It would make health care unaffordable for those who need it most.

Congress approved a bipartisan, one-year moratorium stopping the HIT for 2017. But without immediate action, the HIT will return on Jan. 1, 2018.

According to the actuarial consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the HIT would increase health insurance premiums for 100 million Americans in 2018. Those impacted would see $22 billion dollars in rising in health care costs next year alone. Businesses will be some of the hardest hit. Employer premiums would increase $500 dollars per employee for family coverage. Meanwhile, seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage will see premium increases of $245 dollars and benefit reductions.

State budgets will be hit hard too. In order to cover the millions of dollars in new Medicaid costs, states may have to cut payments to hospitals and providers. Those providers will then look to holders of private commercial plans to make up the difference.  According to Health Management Associates, costs could rise by an additional $2.7 billion next year as the market shifts from public to private sector insurance.

None of this makes sense – from a financial or a public health perspective. We need to focus on building a smart health care system that keeps health insurance affordable for everyone.

That’s why 46 members of the House of Representatives – both Republicans and Democrats – recently signed a letter calling for legislation to delay or repeal this harmful tax.

It’s time we put partisan politics aside and work together to find solutions that address rising health care costs and market instability. Our constituents are counting on us. Let’s get it done.

Bera represents California’s 7th District and formerly served as Sacramento County Chief Medical Officer. Paulsen represents Minnesota’s 3rd District and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.