Obamacare-Inflated Health Costs Are Sucking Away Tax Reform’s Success For Families

Obamacare-Inflated Health Costs Are Sucking Away Tax Reform’s Success For Families

Despite good economic news, the high costs of health care remain the most pressing and worrisome domestic issue for families and individuals.
Chip Roy
By

Despite what one may hear from the media, there’s been a lot of good economic news lately. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point in almost 50 years. Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high. Economic growth has exceeded 4 percent for two straight quarters.

But the high costs of health care remain the most pressing and worrisome domestic issue for families and individuals. It’s devouring family budgets and inflicting vast amounts of pain on millions of Americans. The high cost of health care is erasing much of the recent tax reform’s relief, even though the changes were good and the new individual rates should be made permanent.

This is understandable given that Obamacare’s onerous insurance mandates have more than doubled premiums over the past five years. In some states, premiums have more than tripled as provider networks have narrowed and options have diminished.

Obamacare must be fully repealed—every word of it. Past efforts by Republicans have been half measures stemming from political fear and cowardice at the advice of Washington insiders, instead of doing what was promised and is right. But repealing Obamacare is not the finish line. If Americans are to receive the care they deserve at a cost that is affordable with a doctor of their preference, repealing Obamacare is only the beginning.

The current system is little more than venture socialism. Government mandates enhance the profit-seeking motives of insurance companies without the actual check of a free market to punish bad actors.

The solution to this problem is not centralizing even more power in the hands of government bureaucrats under socialized medicine schemes hidden behind the phrase “Medicare for All.” Aside from quadrupling down on the flaws that have caused the very pain that millions of Americans are experiencing, “Medicare for All” socialism would cost $32.6 trillion, bankrupt the country, destroy what care we currently have in favor of adopting the lowest common denominator, and accelerate the closure of hospitals essential for providing care to millions of seniors.

The answer remains what it’s always been: freedom. We must finally move to a patient-centered, market-oriented system. It must be free from the flawed and crony decisions of politicians and big insurers. It must not enrich middlemen, insurance companies, or government bureaucrats at the expense of patients and consumers. It must focus on dramatically lowering costs and providing better care for all Americans.

This means implementing direct primary care, where you and your doctor interact directly without third-party interference that increases costs. This means expanding health sharing associations so that you, your community, your neighbors, or your church can pool resources. This means empowering health-savings accounts so you have a personal tax-exempt repository to help pay for care.

It also means returning health insurance back to its proper function as a backstop for potential catastrophic medical events. You, not your employer, should own your insurance plan, and it should be personalized to your specific health needs, not necessarily linked to your employment.  Most of all, it means removing the cost-driving mandates that are making our health care and insurance unaffordable.

Beyond the larger policy goals of restoring health care freedom by repealing Obamacare and advancing a patient-centered system, we can take immediate steps to repeal archaic statutes that have exacerbated the cost of prescription drugs and enriched middlemen through government-sanctioned cronyism.

One such statute is a little-known provision from a 1987 law that exempts hospital group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from penalties for taking kickbacks from medical suppliers. While perhaps well-intentioned, the result of this provision is a government-approved monopoly over drug and medical devices’ supply chain.

These middlemen charge fees for medications and medical supplies to even enter a specific marketplace. One estimate shows that the cost to consumers and patients is roughly $200 billion per year. That’s money coming out of your pocket and going directly to those who operate the supply chain. It’s inflating the cost of drugs and medical devices, and creating drug shortages.

The same study showed repealing this provision could lower the cost of prescription drugs and devices by as much as 30 percent, while saving billions in Medicare, which is currently on trajectory for bankruptcy by 2026. This is just one example of a pre-Obamacare federal provision that is harming Americans and that we could change quickly. The president and his advisors recently have focused on this issue and how important it is for Americans of all income levels.

A dedicated group of doctors and pastors is working to build support for legislation that would eliminate this statute. If elected to Congress, I will work immediately to carry that mission forward as a critical first step in a reinvigorated push for health care freedom.

Going forward, Americans must send people to Washington who not only understand these problems, but who also recognize that the solution is not giving more power to people in a swamp town on the east coast to devise yet more failed one-size-fits-all solutions for 330 million unique people.

Ultimately, government involvement in health care is the root of our problems. Freedom, free markets, and restoring the patient-doctor relationship are the solution.

Chip Roy is the Republican nominee for the 21st congressional district in Texas.

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