Our country’s healthcare system is at a crossroads and inaction is not an option. The cost of health insurance has increased significantly while the number of private coverage options has decreased. These failings have all come at a very high cost to the federal government, to employers, and to individuals.
While no piece of legislation is perfect, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is being considered by the House of Representatives this week, is a critical step in the right direction. Anyone who recognizes the impending collapse of the individual insurance market should think carefully before voting against this bill.
The business community has a significant stake in the outcome of this debate. Not only do many companies operate in the different healthcare sectors, but many more companies are providers of health care coverage for employees and their families. The health and wellness of employees are critical to businesses and our economy.
Under ObamaCare, flexibility in benefit and plan design has been constrained. The cost of complying with regulatory and administrative burdens is consuming time, funds, and resources. By enacting the AHCA we can begin to make great strides toward repairing this damage and advancing our three vital goals of improving access to affordable coverage, preserving the employer-sponsored system, and fostering economic growth.
The AHCA will improve access to affordable coverage by repealing ObamaCare’s tax on health insurance, which merely drives up premiums. Repealing the prescriptive platinum, gold, silver, and bronze plan limitations in the individual and small group market will open the door to a wider range of coverage options. By changing the age-rating rule, the AHCA will improve coverage affordability for younger workers. The expansion of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts will make healthcare more affordable for millions of Americans.
The AHCA will also preserve the employer-sponsored healthcare system that more than 177 million American workers depend on for quality care. By ensuring that the new healthcare tax credits are not available to those with employer sponsored insurance and by further delaying the so-called Cadillac Tax, which penalizes businesses for offering robust coverage, the legislation protects the employer-sponsored system.
Further, the bill will help reform our healthcare system to contribute to, rather than impede, economic growth. ObamaCare has proven to be a burden on our entire economy by hitting job creators with higher costs, taxes, and mandates. The AHCA would lift this burden and promote faster, long-term economic growth by eliminating the employer mandate penalty, making it easier for businesses to redirect resources to investments and growth.
Perhaps most important, the AHCA supports growth by repealing a dozen ObamaCare tax increases and reducing the overall tax burden by over $900 billion over the next decade. The tax increases repealed by the AHCA include the health insurance tax, a literal $145 billion tax on health insurance, and the medical device tax, a $20 billion tax on devices used to treat patients.
These three goals — affordable coverage, robust employer sponsored care, and a pro-growth system — are important to every member of the business community. That’s why, for decades, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has crafted and advanced proposals in Congress and the private sector to advance the healthcare goals shared by our members. The AHCA is a positive, albeit imperfect, step forward for American healthcare and the business community, and we urge the House to approve the legislation for swift consideration by the Senate.
Thomas J. Donohue is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.