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Free Lance-Star: Republican health care bill works to reduce costs

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Washington, May 11, 2017 | comments
This op-ed appeared in the Free-Lance Star.

LAST WEEK, I voted to roll back key components of Obamacare. My vote was consistent with the promises I made to constituents since I first ran for office three years ago. The American Health Care Act is a start to keep the promise Republicans have made for the last seven years. In fact, House Republicans voted 50 times to repeal part or all of Obamacare.

Since Obamacare became law, it has been a string of broken promises and yearly double-digit premium increases. Next year, Virginians are expected to see a 20 percent increase in their premiums on the individual market. Obamacare is another federal government program like Medicare and Social Security that will be insolvent in 20 years. We have already piled on $20 trillion in debt and $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities onto our kids.

It is imploding, and economic theory predicted this from the beginning. Ask small business owners about the price tag for providing health care to their employees and you will hear an earful on how it hurts their ability to create jobs and promote economic growth. This isn’t fair for anyone, and it is unsustainable.

The AHCA is not perfect, but it is a proactive response to policies that are failing American individuals and families.

When the AHCA text was released in March, I did not support the bill. I believed it kept the core structure of Obamacare intact and did not tackle lowering the cost of health care.

Currently, the average young adult cannot sign up for affordable health care coverage because of the hoops insurance providers must jump through to comply with insurance regulations. And under Obamacare, people with pre-existing conditions are eligible for health insurance, but it is too often health insurance they cannot afford because of sky-high premiums and deductibles.

Through constructive dialogue and discussions with President Trump, Vice President Pence, House leadership and the work of House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R–N.C., we were able to come to agreement on a path forward for the AHCA. That process required compromise from conservatives and moderates.

The AHCA did not include all of the provisions I supported in the Freedom Caucus health care repeal proposal introduced by Rep. Mark Sanford, R–S.C. However, the final version of the AHCA included three amendments to give states more flexibility to meet the needs of their residents and work toward lowering health insurance costs and premiums.

The MacArthur amendment addressed the concerns of the House Freedom Caucus and those of my more moderate colleagues. This amendment improved the legislation by addressing the core driver of health care costs, which is insurance regulations. It allows for a more free-market driven system where we can have more competition and choice.

The amendment gives states a choice to waive certain costly insurance regulations while protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

Health care is personal and many have expressed concerns about protections for those with pre-existing conditions. I agree these individuals must be protected and I have told my constituents that over and over again. Contrary to media reports, the MacArthur amendment clearly states, “nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access for health coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

Also, keep in mind the AHCA applies only to those in the individual health insurance market who have seen the highest premium and deductible increases. It will change absolutely nothing for the 179 million Americans who receive employer-sponsored health insurance, Tricare, VA, Medicare or Medicaid.


Even then, those receiving insurance on the individual market without significant gaps in coverage will see no changes to their coverage. If anyone with a pre-existing condition loses coverage and sees premium increases, the legislation provides $138 billion in funding for states to offset costs through high-risk pools.

There have been critics of the process. I was one of them, from the beginning. The way this bill was initially brought to the House floor for consideration was not as transparent as it could have been, and we should have had a final Congressional Budget Office score before passing it.

To dispel one final concern, the House passed companion legislation to ensure that members of Congress, who are still required to receive coverage from Obamacare exchanges, cannot be exempted from any of the provisions in the AHCA.

This bill was about keeping our word, but our work to repeal Obamacare is not done. Now it moves over to the Senate, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to improve the bill.

Dave Brat is an economist and member of the House of Representatives, serving Virginia’s 7th congressional district. He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access of the House Small Business Committee.
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