Congress is doubling down on ObamaCare's failures

Congress is doubling down on ObamaCare's failures
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As Congress races to avoid another temporary, partial lapse in some federal funding this week, the drama of “shutdown” headlines continue to mask a far more serious issue for the American people: insurer bailouts.

As Congress moves forward with their budget-busting omnibus bill, they have simultaneously readied in a separate measure nearly $60-$65 billion in wealth transfer from hard-working Americans to insurance companies under the guise of “stabilizing” the ObamaCare exchanges. This despite insurance companies reporting record profits this past year.


And the Trump administration sadly failed to oppose this deception.


Of course, insurance companies claim this bailout is necessary to keep insurance premiums lower. But 2018 premiums have already been set and 2019 premiums are expected to increase as well.  

As the Texas Public Policy Foundation and other organizations said since before the debate began last year, the primary reason premiums continue to skyrocket is because of ObamaCare’s onerous federal insurance regulations. Until these are eliminated, costs will continue to rise, care will continue to diminish, and provider networks will continue to narrow.

Insurance premiums keep increasing because instead of giving people choices, and tailoring insurance to fit each person’s need, insurance companies are forced to give us one-size-fits-all policies. This is the debate and the conversation Congress and late night pundits refuse to have with the American people.

You can either have lower costs, more options, and better overall care for a larger number of Americans, or you can have the system we currently have: government mandated plans that are unaffordable with high deductibles and narrow provider networks that increasingly diminish the quality of care patients receive.

The fact remains most Americans with preexisting conditions — myself among them — have options available to ensure they receive coverage: through employer-provided coverage, Medicaid, and Medicare for older Americans. ObamaCare’s guaranteed issue mandate was designed for the relatively small number of Americans with preexisting conditions who received health care coverage in the individual market — roughly three to five percent of everyone in individual markets.

Indeed, if the onerous guaranteed issue mandate were finally repealed along with the other federal mandates and regulations — as Congress and the administration should do — then the debate over what to do about this relatively small number of Americans with preexisting conditions would return to its proper place, the states.

Innovation within the states could, and likely would, open up the door to any number of policy solutions to help these Americans, be it state-funded high-risk pools, state-approved sharing associations, or health savings accounts to offset the costs of care. In addition, all Americans would benefit from new insurance options that would provide better, more affordable health care.

But now that Congress seems set to dump tens of billions of taxpayer dollars into the hands of large insurance companies, a vicious cycle will unfold wherein costs continue to rise because of the onerous regulations while insurance companies demand more of our money to offset these costs. All of this happening while Americans who are struggling to pay their insurance premiums and pay their deductible.

The solution to this crisis is simply repealing ObamaCare.

Though the system prior to ObamaCare was far from perfect, it was a whole lot better than the mess we have now. What we should do is look for real solutions to help people. One of the best ways to do this is allowing states to develop new and innovative ways to ensure the most vulnerable among us receives the health care services they need at an affordable price.

However, the current system in the aftermath of ObamaCare is exponentially worse and deteriorating rapidly.

The only way Americans are ever going to attain healthcare freedom — wherein families and individuals have the ability to purchase health insurance tailored to their specific health needs — is to end federal control over what such health insurance has to look like for some 330 million people.

This can be achieved by using budget reconciliation instructions to take one more shot at repealing the regulations causing the problem as opposed to shoveling tax dollars at insurance companies in the hopes that premiums will increase less than they otherwise will.

Congress still has an opportunity to step back from the brink, put the interests of hardworking Americans first, and refuse to turn insurance giants into arms of the state funded by the very people struggling to pay the bills.

The inability and unwillingness of Congress to repeal ObamaCare was a colossal failure. For their own sake and more importantly, for the sake of the American people, they shouldn’t compound one failure with two.

Drew White is senior federal policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit group aimed at reducing the size of government.