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Two doctors: Republicans must seize this healthcare opportunity

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How many times has the GOP Congress voted to repeal ObamaCare?  How many promises have Republicans made to fix it if they could only have had one of their own in the White House?

More times than we can count—and as medical professionals who have seen our patients suffer tremendously under the law, we’ve paid more attention than most.

{mosads}Well, Republicans asked for it, and now they have it: a President who states he is in sync with their desire to bring back patient choice, to rein in government regulatory over-reach, to re-institute more insurance options for patients to lower their costs, and to give the states more latitude in how they spend their share of the federal health care dollars they receive.

Now the GOP needs to make good on its promises.

With Mr. Trump confidently voicing his pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare as one of the first orders of business, his appointment of pro-repeal and replace Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and an anxious GOP Congress, it’s time to act. No more promises unfulfilled. No more excuses as to why Americans still can’t keep their doctor, choose their own plans or find greater value for their health care dollars.

As two doctors who have spent a collective 40+ years fighting for patient-centered health-care reform, we have had plenty of time to think of what to do should this situation present itself.

Over the next few weeks, we will write a series of articles outlining the principles—and some specific proposals—that Republicans should remember as they seek to replace ObamaCare. We believe this is the most important task facing President-elect Trump and GOP leaders in Congress.

Our job in producing this series of articles is to examine some of the major initiatives we believe will help address the major concerns of Americans who, under ObamaCare, have lost their doctors and their plans and pay far more in co-pays, deductibles, and premiums. 

Here are the big tasks facing Republicans.

First, they need to realign incentives and create transparency so that consumers can get value for the money they pay.

Second, they must address the two politically popular aspects of ObamaCare—no pre-existing condition exclusion and allowing children to stay on their family policy until the age of 26. 

Third, they must make Medicaid and Medicare sustainable, lest they become unaffordable for the country and therefore non-existent for the next generation of Americans. 

Fourth, they must promote truly portable insurance, decoupling it from the employee’s job while treating the coverage in a fair tax advantaged way, and provide assistance and/or access to lower income people so they can purchase their own health care plan. 

In the coming months, Republicans must remember that politics precedes policy. So, whatever comes out of Congress must meet the political smell test. They can’t appear to be leaving 20 million people behind or rewarding the rich at the expense of the poor.  Just as Mr. Trump ran a campaign in which he was never on the defensive, so must Republicans fight this battle for the little guy from start to finish. If they don’t, the Democratic Party will be able to turn the millstone of the past six years into one of its greatest assets in 2018 and beyond.

The GOP’s leaders understand this. As House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said, the party “simply has to respond to [Americans’] valid concerns, and we need to do that quickly”.  It’s critical that all Republicans in Washington, D.C. recognize the opportunity they have—and the danger of missing it.

For our part, we hope that Republicans will listen to medical professionals, like us, who have spent our entire careers dealing with the health-care system’s problems—made worse by ObamaCare—and offering up solutions about how to fix it.

Republicans have spent the past six years claiming that they were ready for this moment. Now they have to show that they meant it.

Dr. Strom is a fellow at the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. Dr. Gianoli is the co-founder of the Ear and Balance Institute.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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