On January 19th, I joined a bipartisan group of House Members to support the repeal of Obamacare. With this vote, more Members voted to repeal the bill (245-189) than voted for its passage last year (219-212).
By repealing Obamacare, we have taken the first step towards fixing the potholes littered throughout this massive law. Now comes the hard part – drafting bipartisan legislation which will reform healthcare for Ohioans and all Americans. While the previous process was marked by partisan rancor and backroom deals, we have an opportunity to undertake this task in a bipartisan and transparent manner.
Unless the Senate follows the House in repealing Obamacare, the law will adversely affect every American family, small business, and millions of our senior citizens. Its $500 billion cuts to Medicare, which include $156 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts, will impact southwestern Ohioans already at risk. These cuts will leave Medicare recipients with fewer choices and less access. This is the direct opposite of what healthcare reform had proposed to accomplish.
In addition to the cuts affecting Ohio seniors, the unchecked spending and debilitating taxes included in the legislation were chief reasons for my original opposition to the law. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office has stated that Obamacare will increase the federal budget deficit by over $550 billion in the first 10 years of the law and then by $1.4 trillion in the following ten years. Adding additional taxes, fees, and costs on an already struggling economy will not help small businesses keep our neighbors employed, and will surely discourage new hiring in our communities. Ultimately, those taxes, coupled with nearly $2 trillion in new government spending over the next 20 years, will stifle the growth we need to put Americans back to work.
Going forward, Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have an obligation to get healthcare reform right. We should do so in a manner which fosters conversation and measured dialogue. Furthermore, this must be accomplished through the committee process where debate and discussion can take place in full view of the American people. No longer can bills be written behind closed doors or out of view from our nation’s citizens. This is a standard which I hope all legislative action will adhere to going forward.
There are already areas where common ground is shared between both of the parties on Capitol Hill. We agree that we must address issues such as prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, offering the ability to deduct the full cost of their health insurance premiums and allowing parents to keep their children on their insurance premiums until age 25.
To further expand coverage and decrease costs, I have advocated for allowing small businesses to pool coverage. Pooled coverage brings in more policy holders, and spreads the risk across a greater base of payees. This brings lower costs for small businesses and lower premiums for their employees.
Additionally, frivolous law suits have driven up the costs of medical care for years. Reforming this system of lawsuits on medical providers will provide relief for doctors and patients alike. Through the constant fear of being sued, doctors have been forced to administer defensive medicine and perform unnecessary tests. These additional tests mean greater costs. Multiply these actions by the millions of Americans who have coverage and it is easy to see how this would bring about additional savings for doctors, patients, and their insurance providers.
America has been blessed with a population of thinkers who are continuously searching for the unanswered questions in health science, while our doctors and nurses administer to their patients needs through thought and compassion. Our efforts in Congress should aim to continue those fine traditions. Reforming our healthcare system to decrease costs while increasing access is a goal worthy of accomplishment. To remain the source for the best medical care the world has to offer, we must work together as Americans to realize this goal.