By Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), MD - 03/02/15 07:00 AM EST
President Obama has created a precarious situation for millions of Americans. The result of this situation is a Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, which intertwines the Obama administration’s overreach, access to health care and politics. If the court rules in favor of a plain reading of the Affordable Care Act, more than 6 million enrolled through the Obamacare exchanges are at risk of losing health insurance coverage and access to care.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellUS declares 'public health emergency' in Puerto Rico over Zika Administration shifts funds to boost Zika vaccine work Health chief warns Congress: Zika funds quickly running out MORE recently said the Obama Administration has no backup plan if more than 6 million Americans lose their subsidy in the aftermath of the ruling, “…We have no plans that would, undo the massive damage to our health care system…”
Evident in writings and plans advanced by leading conservative thinkers, there is a consensus that health insurance should be truly accessible for those who want it. This is our challenge: How do we work to ensure health insurance is truly accessible and affordable and that the patient has the power when President Obama threatens vetoes and only allows changes to Obamacare by his executive order?
The answer begins with King v. Burwell.
If the subsidies in the 36 states with federal exchanges are ruled illegal and discontinued, the individual and employer mandates and the penalties for non-compliance are effectively eliminated. As 85 percent of those insured through the exchanges receive subsidies, if subsides end, mandates are waived for those 85 percent who otherwise could not afford the coverage.
Some wish to let the chips fall where they may. This school of thought holds that if the subsidies, mandates and penalties vanish, the private health insurance market will return to the status quo before Obamacare.
As a doctor who practiced for 32 years, I can tell you this is wrong. Obamacare scorched the earth of the health insurance market as it once was. As just one example, every high-risk pool that states established to care for those with high cost, pre-existing conditions is gone.
If subsidies cease, Americans still face mandated benefits, premium taxes, and increased costs of administrative overhead and compliance. Some families are now looking at premium hikes as much as 400 percent or greater than $10,000 while deductibles are as high as $12,000 per family. Like Tom and Daisy Buchanan casually wreaking havoc on the lives of those around them, Obamacare raises the costs of being insured until it is only affordable to those receiving subsidies while implementing subsides in a way that the Supreme Court is poised to rule illegal.
Having an alternative is better than having the chips fall randomly. Unfortunately, as Secretary Burwell stated, the administration does not have a plan.
Republican plans include tax cuts/credits to those without employer sponsored insurance, giving states and patients the power which Obamacare consolidates in Washington, D.C. This would insure more people than Obamacare at a lower cost to society.
Although the Obama administration does not have a plan, Republicans do.
Cassidy is Louisiana’s junior senator, serving since 2015. He sits on the Appropriations; the Energy and Natural Resources; the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and the Veterans’ Affairs committees.